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Top-ranked Novak Djokovic advances at Monte Carlo

Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a return to Italy's Andreas Seppi, during their match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament in Monaco, Wednesday.

Claude Paris/Associated Press

Novak Djokovic got his clay-court season off to a good start with a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 win against Andreas Seppi in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

The top-ranked Djokovic raced into a 4-0 lead after 19 minutes before the Italian started to fight back. But Djokovic closed out the match on serve to improve to 7-0 against Seppi.

"I haven't played a match on a clay court since Roland Garros last year, so I'm happy with how I played," Djokovic said.

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The Australian Open champion next faces Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, who had 11 aces in his 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 win against Australian Bernard Tomic.

"He's a very talented player and has a lot of variety in his game, so it will be very difficult," Djokovic said.

Later, Rafael Nadal began his bid for an eighth straight Monte Carlo title against Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen.

The Spaniard has not won a title since last year's French Open, and has lost seven straight tournament finals to Djokovic.

Djokovic looked on course for an even easier win after the early double break put him in total control.

But in a long fifth game lasting 11 minutes, the Serb was finally tested as Seppi showed some form with a couple of big forehands and one lovely drop shot. Djokovic even had to save two break points at 15-40.

Targeting Djokovic's backhand, Seppi then won a long rally to force another break point, then wasted it with a hurried forehand into the net.

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After another long sixth game, Seppi drew a cheer from the crowd after finally holding his serve. Djokovic quickly wrapped up the set when Seppi returned his second serve into the net.

Both players held at the start of the second set before Djokovic stepped up the pace by breaking Seppi to love.

Also, Gilles Simon of France beat Frederico Gil of Portugal 6-3, 6-0 and awaited seventh-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia or Albert Montanes of Spain. Frenchman Julien Benneteau will play Andy Murray in the third round after beating Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-4, 6-3.

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