The World No 1 and six-time champion in Monaco beats Jarko Nieminen 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes.
Rafael Nadal starts Monte Carlo defence with comfortable win
MONTE CARLO // Rafael Nadal, the World No 1 and six-time champion in Monaco, made a comfortable start to his defence of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.
The Spaniard, who cruised to victory in the same tournament a year ago, was rarely troubled and dropped just four games as he beat Jarko Nieminen 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes.
Nadal will now meet Richard Gasquet after he crushed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-1.
Gasquet, a semi-finalist at the event six years ago, said: "It is important that it was a fast match, especially as I have to play Rafa.
"I`m happy now that I`m in the round of 16. With Nadal, we know what to expect."
Earlier in the day, Gael Monfils, the world No 10, made his first appearance for two months and got the better of Spain`s Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5, 6-2.
The Frenchman, returning from a wrist injury suffered in San Jose in February, slipped up on break point twice before taking a decisive 11th game which put him on course for the win.
He will now face qualifier Frederico Gil, who beat Florian Meyer 7-5, 6-1.
Nadal`s compatriot, David Ferrer, also enjoyed a one-sided win, seeing off Feliciano Lopez 6-2, 6-0.
There were also wins for Viktor Troicku, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 over Fabio Fognini, and Giles Simon, 6-3, 6-4 against Albert Montanes, while the sixth seed Fernando Verdasco was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Tommy Robredo.
Marin Cilic secured his route through when opponent Pere Riba had to retire due to injury.