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.
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 just three losses.
Nadal never faced a break point while breaking his wild card opponent three times.
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.
The Swiss 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.
“I’m satisfied with my level physically and mentally. I was able to be aggressive.”
The seventh seed, who lifted his first elite Masters 1000 title in Monaco a year ago as he beat compatriot Federer for the title, spent 71 minutes in getting past Monaco.
Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open winner, will next face ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-4.
The Swiss 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.
Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4 7-6 (7/2) while Gilles Simon, the number 10, defeated fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4 7-5.