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Nadal, Federer ease into third round of Monte Carlo Masters

WORLD No. 1 Rafael Nadal reached the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters, although his easy-looking 6-2, 6-3 win masked a rusty performance against Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela yesterday.

The Spaniard, who is gunning for a fifth successive title, a record in the professional era, looked sloppy at times but regained composure when it mattered to wrap up the win after 86 minutes.

Newly-wed Roger Federer, who could face Nadal for a fourth consecutive final at the Monte Carlo Country Club, eased past Italian Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-4.

The second-seeded Swiss appeared very relaxed on a sunbathed center court, clinching victory on his fourth match point after a final burst from Seppi.

He will next face compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka for a quarterfinal spot after the 13th seed beat Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.

"I thought I played okay. I had a good stretch at the end of the first set, beginning of the second," Federer told reporters.

"Maybe I could have made it easier for myself in the second. I had some opportunities. He hung in there and I didn't play my best. But still happy I came through so good."

Federer, who can equal Pete Sampras for 14 major titles if he wins the French Open for the first time, said he began his claycourt preparations 10 days ago, and that Seppi was the ideal first test for him.

"I knew there was going to be some long rallies with Seppi. He's very steady off both sides," Federer said. "So on a good day he can be really dangerous. I've already played him twice this year, which was kind of good going into this match, knowing what to expect."

Federer, who married his longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec last weekend, broke in the ninth game and took the opening set with a backhand winner down the line.

Another stunning backhand winner earned him a break in the first game of the second set.

The Swiss dismissed a break point with an angled serve which Seppi returned wide and another long return gave Federer his fifth victory in as many matches against the unseeded Italian.

Nadal, who was next on center court, was not as cool as Federer.

The four-time French Open champion missed several easy shots, including a routine smash at the net that allowed Chela to break back in the second set.

The Spaniard shrugged off a break point at 5-3 in the second set before prevailing on his first match point as a Chela backhand went just wide.

Eighth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia also progressed with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Croatian Ivo Karlovic and will face Argentine David Nalbandian, who recovered from a set and a break down to see off Spaniard Marcel Granollers 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini set up a third-round meeting with Briton Andy Murray after demolishing Croatian 14th seed Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-0.

In other second-round matches, seventh-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain eased past Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 6-4; Simone Bolelli of Italy beat Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic 7-5, 6-3; and Spaniard Albert Montanes thumped Jean-Rene Lisnard of Monaco 6-2, 6-4.


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