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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ATP RankingsPoints
1Scotland flag Andy Murray11,540
2Serbia Novak Djokovic9,735
3Switzerland Stanislas Wawrinka5,195
4Canada Milos Raonic5,080
5Japan Kei Nishikori4,730
6Spain Rafael Nadal4,115
7France Jo-Wilfried Tsonga3,480
8Croatia Marin Cilic3,410
9Austria Dominic Thiem3,375
10Switzerland Roger Federer3,260
11Belgium David Goffin3,245
12France Gael Monfils3,190
13Bulgaria Grigor Dimitrov2,925
14Czech Republic Tomas Berdych2,790
15Lucas Pouille2,261
16Spain Roberto Bautista Agut2,190
17Australia Nick Kyrgios2,075
18United States Jack Sock2,060
19France Richard Gasquet1,920
20Alexander Zverev1,895