International Sports Desk, Apr 17 (EFE).- Spain's Rafael Nadal cruised to an easy 6-1, 6-2 victory Wednesday over Marinko Matosevic in his first match at the Monte Carlo Masters.
The eight-time defending champion raced through the first set and overcame a hiccup at the start of the second to win his 43rd straight match at this venue and 267th victory overall on clay.
His Australian opponent seemed overwhelmed and put up little resistance in the early going, but he had a break point to go up 3-0 in the second set before Nadal righted the ship and reeled off the final six games of the contest.
"You always have these nerves in the first (match) and the fact I took a break this month was apparent," Nadal told Teledeporte, referring to his decision to pull out of the Miami Masters event to avoid overstraining a bulky knee.
"I was comfortable at first, playing solid, feeling the ball. At the start of second set, he played better and had a chance but luckily he didn't convert it."
Nadal missed last year's London Olympics and U.S. Open due to the knee injury and also dropped out of this year's Australian Open after coming down with an illness, but he returned to the ATP Tour in February and has already won three titles, including last month's Indian Wells event.
"It's like starting again when you play one month and you stop. You have to get the intensity back again, which is the toughest thing. I know that to have a chance in the later rounds I have to play better," the third seed said.
In other results Wednesday, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia edged Russia's Mikhail Youzhny 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych defeated Spaniard Marcel Granollers 7-5, 6-4.
The Monte Carlo Masters is one of the biggest clay-court events on the ATP calendar and a key tune-up for the French Open, which gets underway next month.