Result: Rafael Nadal wins clay court opener

Rafael Nadal
© PA Photos
Rafael Nadal gets his defence of the Monte Carlo Master off to a winning start against Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.

Rafael Nadal began the defence of his Monte Carlo Masters title with a victory over Jarkko Nieminen this afternoon.

The Spaniard made an instant impact on the encounter when he broke Nieminen's serve at the first time of asking to put him 2-0 in front.

Nieminen responded by holding his remaining service games, but he was unable to regain the game that he lost as world number two Nadal served out for a 6-4 success.

Just as he did in the opening set, Nadal broke his Finnish opponent early in the next.

The 25-year-old, who has won this tournament seven years on the trot, then claimed another of Nieminen's service games to open up a 5-2 advantage and leave him serving for the match.

However, a high lob from Nieminen in the next game caused Nadal to strike his return into the net and allow the Finn a chance to break serve, which he subsequently took.

He failed to build upon that success, however, as Nadal broke straight back to win the match 6-4 6-3.

Nadal will now face Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin in round three.

Rafael Nadal
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1Scotland flag Andy Murray9,390
2Spain Rafael Nadal7,285
3Switzerland Stanislas Wawrinka6,175
4Serbia Novak Djokovic5,805
5Switzerland Roger Federer5,265
6Croatia Marin Cilic4,235
7Canada Milos Raonic4,150
8Austria Dominic Thiem3,895
9Japan Kei Nishikori3,830
10France Jo-Wilfried Tsonga3,075
11Bulgaria Grigor Dimitrov3,070
12Alexander Zverev3,070
13Belgium David Goffin2,785
14Czech Republic Tomas Berdych2,570
15Lucas Pouille2,570
16France Gael Monfils2,545
17Pablo Carreno Busta2,360
18United States Jack Sock2,335
19Spain Roberto Bautista Agut2,155
20Australia Nick Kyrgios2,110