Round three of the Monte-Carlo Masters on Thursday will witness five of the top 10 players in the world - Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka, Roger Federer and Milos Raonic - battling it out for a place in the quaterfinals of the Masters 1000 event.
Eight-time Monte-Carlo champion Nadal started off his campaign on clay with a win over Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-1. The Spaniard was taken by surprise as he went down 1-3 in the opening set but the King of Clay recovered quickly and entered the third round at Monaco.
"Always in the first match, the thing that you want at the beginning is get into a rhythm, play some long points, find the feelings," Nadal said. "But I didn't have that chance because he started very quick with finding the winners on the first ball that he could."
The 27-year-old, surpassed Brian Gottfried (679) in 12th place on the all-time wins list, with his success against Gabashvili on Wednesday. He's well behind Federer's 948 all-time wins.
The Swiss' latest victim was Radek Stepanek who he beat convincingly, 6-1, 6-2. "I was able to get a lot of returns back into play," Federer said. "On clay, when you have the upper hand from the baseline, it's kind of hard to get out of it.
"I think that's how it was for Radek today. I had a good start to both sets, then I was solid on my own service games. The next thing you know, you're in the lead and you can hit freely. It was clearly a good match to start my claycourt campaign."
Federer will face Lukas Rosol on Thursday. Rosol defeated Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4 to set up an encounter with Federer.
"It's surprising the way he came through, but then again, we know he can play good tennis," Federer said of his upcoming clash against the Czech, "He's dangerous. He takes big cuts at the ball."
Meanwhile, world no.1 Nadal's round three match will be against Andreas Seppi, after the Italian defeated Pablo Andujar 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-4.
Defending champion Djokovic will line up against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta who beat Monfils in round two 6-3, 7-6.
Where to Watch Live
Global viewers can stream the live action HERE and HERE. In India, the live coverage will be on Ten Sports, whereas in the US and Australia, ESPN will broadcast it. To watch the action live online, click HERE.
Central Court Schedule [start 10:30 am local time; 2.00 pm IST]
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs Andreas Seppi (ITA)
Lukas Rosol (CZE) vs Roger Federer (SUI)
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) vs Novak Djokovic (SRB)