Tennis: Nadal crushes Matosevic as he begins quest for ninth Monte Carlo Masters crown

MONTE CARLO (REUTERS) - Rafael Nadal launched his bid for a ninth consecutive Monte Carlo Masters title in style, by overpowering Australian Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-2 in the second round on Wednesday.

The Spanish world No. 5 is back in action following a month-long break to rest the knee that sidelined him for seven months after last year's Wimbledon.

He has made a successful return to competition by winning three out of his first four tournaments, including the Indian Wells Masters Series last month,

He looked in great shape in notching his 43rd victory in a row at the clay-court event, and set up a meeting with 16th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

In earlier action beside the Mediterranean, fourth seed Tomas Berdych had to recover from a break down in each set to move past Spaniard Marcel Granollers 7-5, 6-4.

Canadian 22-year-old Milos Raonic, seeded 12th, failed to set up a big-serving clash with Juan Martin del Potro, as he was beaten by Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7).