Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer continued the domination by top seeds at Monte Carlo on Thursday. Nadal, an 8-time tournament champion, shrugged off a slow start to win 11 of the last 13 games to beat Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-1 in the second round.
“It was very important that point, 3-1, break point for him,” said Nadal. “I saved it with one good shot and one good volley. After that I felt that was the time to try to push a little bit more and increase a little bit the rhythm and the intensity. I did, I think. I played a good game to have the break back. I felt that I had the match a little bit more under control.
“Always in the first match, the thing that you want at the beginning is get into a rhythm, play some long points, find the feelings. But I didn’t have that chance because he started very quick with finding the winners on the first ball that he could.”
Nadal’s now won his last 29 matches on the clay since his Monte Carlo loss in the final last year to Novak Djokovic. Next for Nadal is a date with Italian No. 2 Andreas Seppi on Thursday.
Former No. 1 Federer opened his bid for a first Monte Carlo title with a rousing 6-1, 6-2 win over Radek Stepanek, his 25th victory of the season.
“I’m very happy now that I’m doing well,” said Federer, a late wildcard entrant into the event. “But, of course, I also expect this from myself. So I’m just trying to keep up that rhythm. I feel free physically and in my mind. I’m eager to play, I’m eager to practice. I want to play good points. I’m no longer afraid that the rally will last too long. This was getting in the way of my game last year, whereas now I can really enjoy myself.”
Federer’s countryman Stanislas Wawrinka also cruised. The Australian Open champion made a promising debut on his favorite clay crushing Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-2.
“I practiced perfectly before,” said Wawrinka who had been struggling since his Melbourne breakthrough. “I expected a more difficult or more complicated first round against him. But I was able, as I said, to practice well before. I felt good on the court. I know that physically if I feel good, then I am able to put a lot of pressure on the opponent.
“Now the clay court season is just starting and I’m always very pumped up for this particular moment of the year. I’m aware of my strengths, and I know that I must practice a lot and prepare well.”
Milos Raonic, Fabio Fognini, Milos Raonic, Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro were also winners.
A pair of 22-year-olds also notched good wins. Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta earned one of his best career victories defeating Gael Monfils 6-4, 7-6. Carreno Busta, a “lucky loser”, now meets defending champion Novak Djokovic on Thursday. Also Grigor Dimitrov was a three set winner over Albert Ramos, and he’ll now take on another Spaniard in David Ferrer.
THURSDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs  F Fognini (ITA)
 R Nadal (ESP) vs A Seppi (ITA)
L Rosol (CZE) vs  [WC] R Federer (SUI)
[LL] P Carreno Busta (ESP) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
 T Robredo (ESP) vs  M Raonic (CAN)
Not Before 12:30 pm
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  N Almagro (ESP)
 G Dimitrov (BUL) vs  D Ferrer (ESP)
 T Berdych (CZE) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
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