Nadal wins opener against Juan Monaco
Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray earned opening victories on Wednesday to save the box office at a Madrid Masters missing several of the top names in the sport.
With World No.2 Novak Djokovic out with a right wrist injury and Roger Federer with his family after the birth this week of a second set of twins, three-time champion Nadal and Wimbledon winner Murray are the last two big names still alive.
Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka, 2013 finalist against Nadal, was bundled out by Austrian qualifier Dominic Thiem a day earlier.
Nadal delivered crushing 6-1, 6-0 defeat to Juan Monaco to reach the third round, while seventh seed Murray beat his first Spaniard on clay in five years, Nicolas Almagro, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4, a win only sealed with a break in the concluding game.s
Nadal’s mauling of Almagro in 68 minutes was just what he needed after losing his last two events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
The number one whose game and confidence has gone off the boil after losing the Australian Open final to Wawrinka will take on Jarkko Nieminen next.
The Finn played what he called one of his best-ever matches to beat Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-2.
Sixth seed Tomas Berdych recovered nicely from his final loss last weekend in Portugal with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat of South African Kevin Anderson, his 11th consecutive victory in that series.
American ninth seed John Isner earned a win over Australian Marinko Matosevic 7-6 (11-9), 6-7 (5-7), 7-5.
Santiago Giraldo continued the misery season for French 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3; hometowner Feliciano Lopez beat 15th seed Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.