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Nadal, Djokovic Advance

MONACO (AP) -- Seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic began their clay-court seasons with comfortable wins in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday. Djokovic opened with a 6-1, 6-4 win against Andreas Seppi of Italy, while Nadal followed with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Jarkko Nieminen of Finland. Nadal's last match was against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Sony Ericsson Open quarterfinals. He pulled out of his semifinal against Andy Murray to get treatment for a knee tendon problem, having skipped a chunk of the season to rest his knees following the Australian Open. Nadal broke Nieminen's serve four times, and the Finn had a double-fault on match point. The Spaniard next plays Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin. Since 2005, Nadal has won at Monte Carlo and Roland Garros every year except 2009. Djokovic took a 4-0 lead after 19 minutes before Seppi rallied in the second set. But Djokovic closed out the match on serve to improve to 7-0 against Seppi. The Australian Open champion next plays Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, who had 11 aces in his 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 win against Australian Bernard Tomic. Djokovic says to "expect the unexpected" with Dolgopolov. "He's a very talented player, comes up with some shots that are not really typical for a tennis player," Djokovic said. The 23-year-old Dolgopolov is confident of causing an upset. Although he lost in straight sets to Djokovic in the fourth round of last year's US Open, the Serb had to work hard to take a tight first set 7-6 (14). "After that, I think I can compete with him," Dolgopolov said. "I mean, he's No. 1, I'm No. 21. Obviously, he's higher in the ranking. He's playing more consistent. But I think I have my chances." Also, Gilles Simon of France beat Frederico Gil of Portugal 6-3, 6-0 and awaited seventh-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia or Albert Montanes of Spain. Frenchman Julien Benneteau will play Andy Murray in the third round after beating Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-4, 6-3.

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