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Nadal Opens Title Defence; Berdych Beats Granollers

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Berdych© AFP/Getty ImagesTomas Berdych was a break down in both sets before beating Marcel Granollers.

Rafael Nadal recorded his 43rd successive victory at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Wednesday as he opened his bid for a ninth title in a row with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Australia’s Marinko Matosevic

On the anniversary of his first title at the Monte-Carlo Country Club in 2005, the Spaniard made an emphatic start, racing to a 4-0 lead. Matosevic had a competitive spell at the start of the second set, breaking Nadal for a 2-0 lead and holding two break points for 3-0, but the Spaniard regained control and claimed victory in just over an hour.

“I played well at the beginning with the right intensity, with no mistakes,” said Nadal. “I was trying to do the right things to find a good feeling on the ball, to find the right rhythm. I played to the right places, and that gave me confidence.

“I didn't play my best game, the first game of the second, and he played well, so he had the break. And after that he played well for a while in the next games. Then he had good chances, two break points for [a] 3 0 [lead]. It was not an easy moment. I played one good point and I was able to come back.”

The 26-year-old Nadal is on a 15-match winning streak. Since his return from a seven-month injury lay-off in February, the Mallorcan has finished runner-up in Vina del Mar (l. to Zeballos) and won three straight titles in Sao Paulo (d. Nalbandian), Acapulco (d. Ferrer) and Indian Wells (d. del Potro).

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World No. 6 Tomas Berdych overcame a tricky opening match, defeating Spain’s Marcel Granollers 7-5, 6-4 to reach the third round. The Czech trailed by a break at 4-5 in the first set, and also came from a break down in the second set to prevail in one hour and 44 minutes.

"Always the first matches are kind of tough," said Berdych. "If you get an opponent like Marcel, it is even tougher. "In the end, I felt quite good. I was trying to find the clay court rhythm in the beginning. I lost my serve, I gave him some chances, but in the end, I just got myself back focused for the points, the important ones. I was able to hold my serve, take my chances and finish it in straight sets." 

The 27-year-old Berdych has had a very consistent first quarter of the 2013 season and claimed his 22nd match win. He has reached the quarter-finals or better in all six of his tournaments, going on to finish runner-up in Marseille (l. to Tsonga) and Dubai (l. to Djokovic).

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