Rafael Nadal made a winning return to action at the Monte-Carlo Masters on Wednesday, chalking up his 43rd consecutive victory at a tournament he has won every year since 2005.
Nadal’s opponent, Marinko Matosevic, had beaten Fernando Verdasco in the first round to set up a shot at dethroning the Spaniard on his return to the courts after a month off to rest his troublesome knee. Although Nadal, who had been given a bye in the opening round, noted some signs of rust after the match and went 0-2 and break point down in the second set, the Spaniard’s armory on clay is well-oiled and almost impossible to counter.
“Being out for a month is like starting again from nothing,” said the world number five. “I felt comfortable. I began without expecting great things and trying to play with order. At the start of the second he played good games and I played bad. He had chances but luckily didn’t convert them and I played pretty well at the end.”
Next up for Nadal is 16th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Pablo Andújar in round two.
On a bad day for the Armada in Monte Carlo, Nadal became the only Spaniard to remain in the draw following five Spanish losses. Tenth seed Nicolás Almagro fell to Jürgen Melzer while Albert Montañés was defeated by Stanislas Wawrinka. Marcel Granollers tested fourth seed Tomas Berdych but lost in straight sets. Roberto Bautista, who dispatched world 13 Gilles Simon in round one, was bettered by Florian Mayer and Fabio Fognini beat Albert Ramos.