MONACO (AP) — Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal extended his Monte Carlo Masters winning streak to 43 matches and top-ranked Novak Djokovic won despite a balky ankle on Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Nadal cruised past Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-2. Djokovic spent twice as long on court, defeating Mikhail Youzhny 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Djokovic twisted his ankle while playing for Serbia in the Davis Cup on April 7. He looked a bit tentative in the first set, but it didn't appear to impede his movement.
"Today was a big test. My ankle survived, I'm in the next round. That's what matters," Djokovic said. "I know that my game is still not there, obviously, and I have a lot of ups and downs through the match. Physically also, I think I've put double the effort than I do usually because, you know, I still don't feel comfortable."
Nadal will face Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the third round, and Djokovic will play Juan Monaco. Last year, Djokovic lost to Nadal in the final.
Djokovic seemed to twist the ankle during the second set against Youzhny and was hindered for about 15 minutes before the pain wore off.
"You know, protection, the tape, was good. So I managed to overcome that pain and go through the match," Djokovic said. "I think that my ankle is (getting better) as the days are passing by. Obviously, I will have to play a match every day."
His relief was evident as he leaned backward and lifted both hands in the air after clinching victory on his first match point.
"I'm just happy to compete, to be honest. I didn't know if I'm going to be playing the tournament up to yesterday, basically," said Djokovic, who has a home in Monaco. "For me it's important not to have a bigger risk of injuring myself. I enjoy this tournament very much. As I said before, if it was not Monaco I would consider not playing."
Earlier, Nadal nearly trailed 3-0 in the second set, but he saved two break points before taking control again.
"I played well at the beginning with the right intensity, with no mistakes," Nadal said.
At first, Matosevic looked unlikely to even win a game. There were ironic cheers from the crowd when he won his first point and the tall Australian threw both arms up in the air — twice — to milk the applause when he won his first game.
The third-seeded Nadal dropped his serve at the start of the second set and Matosevic held for a 2-0 lead. He had a chance to go further ahead, but Nadal saved the first break point with a forehand winner down the line and Matosevic sent the next opportunity into the net.
"I didn't play my best game the first game of the second, and he played well, so he had the break," Nadal said.
Nadal wrapped up victory on his first match point with a pass down the line.
The Spaniard, who played with a wrap under his left knee, missed seven months because of injury. Since his return in February, he has reached four straight finals and won three.
"Talking more than usual about the knee is not positive for me, is not positive for the opponents, for the tournament, for nobody, no?" Nadal said. "What happened happened."
Fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych, ninth-seeded Marin Cilic, No. 13 Stanislas Wawrinka, Jurgen Melzer, Fabio Fognini, Florian Mayer, and Jarkko Nieminen also won.