Nadal's clay domination begins
Monte Carlo - Rafael Nadal won his 28th consecutive match at the Monte Carlo Masters Wednesday as the Spanish powerhouse began his 2010 clay quest with a 6-1 6-0 hammering of Thiemo de Bakker.
Nadal is bidding for history and a sixth straight title at the picturesque Country Club overlooking the Mediterranean.
His rout of the 21-year-old Dutchman in 59 minutes kept his record in the principality spotless since a defeat in the 2003 third round against Argentine Guillermo Coria (he did not play in 2004).
Second seed Nadal, whose run of triumph at the French Open after four straight titles was ended last year by Swede Robin Soderling, is quietly trying to put his game right after months of knee injury and other interruptions.
His last title came over Novak Djokovic in the Rome final 11 months ago.
The formbook on clay is definitely in the Spaniard's favour, with Nadal now standing 30-1 at the event, with the loss of just five sets.
Top seed Djokovic got first run on a parade of seeds into third round with a 6-2 6-3 win over Florent Serra of France.
The Serb, last year's losing finalist, set the pace for third seed Andy Murray, facing German Philipp Kohlschreiber for the Scot's first match of the season on clay.
Djokovic shot off to a 4-0 lead over Serra and ended the encounter in just under 90 minutes after breaking the number 67 player five times.
"Generally I have to be happy because it's the first clay court match - not including Davis Cup - since Roland Garros last year," said the winner.
"There are still some things that can be better, like serve and maybe some movement.
"I'm sure it's going to be better tomorrow."
The win for Dubai champion Djokovic was his 16th of the season against four defeats and puts him into a clash with last weekend's Casablanca champion Stanislas Wawrinka after the Swiss 13th seed put out Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-1 6-4.
"Serra is a player who can hit the ball really well, and he can surprise you with some shots, as he did today," said Djokovic.
"You don't know what to expect from him. He's really unpredictable."
Two-time winner Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain polished his pedigree at the Country Club on a brilliantly sunny if chilly day, stopping German Benjamin Becker 6-3 6-4.
Ferrero, 30 and champion in 2002 and 2003, has been on a tear on clay this season, winning two titles and reaching a final in a third in the space of three February weeks.
Spain's 11th-seeded David Ferrer defeated Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan 6-3 6-2 while number 12 Tommy Robredo made it a hat-trick on the day for Spain with his 6-4 6-3 win over Serb Troicki 6-4 6-3.