Murray and Nadal muddle through in Monte Carlo

Fresh from his shock last-16 defeat to Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Monte-Carlo Masters, the world number one will join the likes of reigning champion Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem and David Goffin in Catalonia after accepting a wildcard entry.

Murray, a three-time Monte Carlo semi-finalist, raced away with the first set, before the world No. 24 found his feet to level the score, then neutralised a 4-0 Murray lead in the third set. "It's a completely different match-up and I'll need to be ready for a big fight because he doesn't give anything for free".

The 22-year-old had a chance to lead 3-1 in the decider but Nadal held firm and ultimately proved just the stronger. "It's not going to be easy, the first tournament back after a while, but I've been feeling good and hopefully I can do it".

Earlier in the day, this year's Open Sud de France titlist Zverev defeated Nadal's compatriot Feliciano Lopez 6-0, 6-4 in 60 minutes. After breaking Murray's serve again, Ramos-Vinolas served out the match on his second match point.

Former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka was also routed, with the Swiss third seed losing to Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-4, 6-4.

Elsewhere, defending champion and fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal struggled past Britain's Kyle Edmund 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 in their thrilling second round of the tournament.

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Pablo Carreno Busta, Alexander Zverev and Albert Ramos-Vinolas also advanced.

The Scot reached the semi-finals in Monaco previous year and clearly needs more matches ahead of the French Open starting on May 28.

Qualifier Adrian Mannarino stunned fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, eliminating the seventh seed 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-3 as new father Tsonga played for the first time in more than a month. I've practised with him quite a bit, he obviously likes the clay.

"I was really happy with how my elbow felt this week".

There were a couple of upsets as German Jan-Lennard Struff knocked out eighth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and Argentine Diego Schwartzman beat 12th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 7-6 (3). After so many hardcourt disappointments, a return to his dream surface, red clay, where every ball sails slow and high; a tournament where he's posted a merciless 58-4 record in his career; no Roger Federers looming in the draw.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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