Finalist Roger Federer and holder Stan Wawrinka have rolled to quick-fire opening wins at the Monte Carlo Masters as clay king Rafael Nadal also joined the Swiss pair with a solid start.
Second seed Federer, a three-time runner-up at the seaside Country Club, took just 54 minutes on Wednesday to dominate Jeremy Chardy 6-2 6-1 as the Frenchman sent in a pair of double-faults in the penultimate game while Federer advanced with his third ace on match point a game later.
“Jeremy didn’t serve very well, and I felt good on the return,” the Swiss winner said.
“So I was in a lot of the service games when he was serving.
“I thought I served well, had a high first serve percentage and was able to control the baseline. On clay, things move ahead very quickly, I must say.
“I’ve had 10 days of clay training and I feel prepared.”
For third seed Nadal, his 6-2 6-1 second-round success against French wild card Lucas Pouille came as a huge relief after a poor season and just one small South American trophy to hand since winning a ninth Roland Garros title last May.
“I’m glad to be back here and playing on clay,” said the troubled Spaniard, whose win improved his record at the tournament to 51 wins and three losses.
“It was a tough match, but I played little bit better than what I was doing before.
“I played with the right mentality, the right concentration, I didn’t have (a lot of) mistakes in a row.”
The 28-year-old spent 68 minutes in proving that he will not roll over on his preferred surface even after a month of poor hardcourt results and a general lack of confidence after his ranking fell to fifth.
Switzerland’s Wawrinka kicked off his week with a 6-1 6-4 defeat of Argentine Juan Monaco in 71 minutes to progress.
He was also glad to get some red dirt in his socks after an indifferent last few months.
“I’m happy to change, to come on clay again. The conditions are great here, so I’m happy with the first match.
“Since I wasn’t playing well in practice, I consider this match as a good one. There were ups and downs, but that’s normal for a first match.”
The seventh seed, who lifted his first elite Masters 1000 title in Monaco a year ago as he beat compatriot Roger Federer for the title, spent 71 minutes in getting past Monaco.
Wawrinka will next face ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-4.
The 2014 Australian Open winner comes onto the spring clay with a 17-4 match record and titles in Chennai and Rotterdam.
The 30-year-old successfully defended a title for the first time in January, winning Chennai for the second year in a row.
Canadian Milos Raonic, seeded fourth beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-3 7-6 (7/4), while Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4 7-6 (7/2).
Gilles Simon, the number 10, defeated fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4 7-5.