Rafael Nadal delights record crowd at Monte Carlo Masters

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is bidding for a ninth triumph at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Story highlights

  • Rafael Nadal beats Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-4 6-1 at Monte Carlo Masters
  • The world No. 1 is bidding for a ninth career triumph at the Monte Carlo Country Club
  • 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer defeats Radek Stepanek
  • Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka also victorious on Wednesday

On a record attendance day at the Monte Carlo Masters tennis event, the king of clay held court.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal began his quest for a record-extending ninth triumph at the principality tournament with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.

A capacity crowd of 14,600 fans packed into the Monte Carlo Country Club, where Nadal won eight successive titles between 2005 and 2012.

His winning run was snapped 12 months ago by rival Novak Djokovic, who opened his campaign Tuesday with a defeat of Albert Montanes.

Nadal came within a point of going a double break down in Wednesday's opening set, but he recovered to wrap up victory in resounding fashion.

Venus Williams fights incurable disease
Venus Williams fights incurable disease

    JUST WATCHED

    Venus Williams fights incurable disease

MUST WATCH

Venus Williams fights incurable disease 06:07
PLAY VIDEO
Beach workout lifts your game
Beach workout lifts your game

    JUST WATCHED

    Beach workout lifts your game

MUST WATCH

Beach workout lifts your game 04:26
PLAY VIDEO

"It was very important that point, 3-1, break point for him," Nadal told the ATP Tour's official website. "I saved it with one good shot and one good volley.

"After that I felt that was the time to try to push a little bit more and increase the rhythm and the intensity. I played a good game to get the break back. I felt that I had the match a little bit more under control."

Next for Nadal is a third-round tie with Italy's Andreas Seppi, who emerged victorious from a marathon encounter with Spaniard Pablo Andujar that lasted two hours and 48 minutes.

Also off to a winning start was Roger Federer, who took a wildcard to appear at the tournament for the first time since 2011.

The 17-time grand slam champion effortlessly dispatched Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-1 6-2, and will next face Czech Lukas Rosol.

"I'm very happy now that I'm doing well," said fourth seed Federer, a three-time runner-up in Monte Carlo. "But, of course, I also expect this from myself. So I'm just trying to keep up that rhythm. I feel free physically and in my mind. I'm eager to play, I'm eager to practice.

A game-changer for tennis?
A game-changer for tennis?

    JUST WATCHED

    A game-changer for tennis?

MUST WATCH

A game-changer for tennis? 02:43
PLAY VIDEO
Big names celebrate World Tennis Day
Big names celebrate World Tennis Day

    JUST WATCHED

    Big names celebrate World Tennis Day

MUST WATCH

Big names celebrate World Tennis Day 04:23
PLAY VIDEO

"I want to play good points. I'm no longer afraid that the rally will last too long. This was getting in the way of my game last year, whereas now I can really enjoy myself."

Federer has been usurped as Switzerland's top-ranked player by Stanislas Wawrinka, who won the first grand slam title of his career at January's Australian Open.

The world No. 3 wasted no time in his match against Croatia's Marin Cilic, sealing a 6-0 6-2 triumph in just 46 minutes.

"I practiced perfectly before," said the 29-year-old, who next faces Spanish 15th seed Nicolas Almagro. "I expected a more difficult or more complicated first round against him.

"But I was able, as I said, to practice well before. I felt good on the court. I know that physically if I feel good, then I am able to put a lot of pressure on the opponent.

"Now the clay court season is just starting and I'm always very pumped up for this particular moment of the year. I'm aware of my strengths, and I know that I must practice a lot and prepare well."

Read: Why is Rafael Nadal so happy?

Read: Belinda Bencic -- The new Hingis?

Read: Can new "Musketeers" fulfil potential?

      Tennis

    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.