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MONTE CARLO - Roger Federer started his clay season on a high as he won his first match as a married man yesterday, reaching the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters 6-4 6-4 over Italian Andreas Seppi.
The three-time finalist who is celebrating his honeymoon after Saturday's surprise marriage in Basel, earned his fifth career victory over Seppi, the world number 40 who played a clay final in Gstaad two years ago.
Federer, supremely relaxed and confident after marriage and awaiting a child with wife Mirka Vavrinec this summer, will play Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka after the 13th seed defeated Argentine Marcello Vassallo Arguello 2-67-56-2 in a marathon.
Second-seed Federer was still made to work to the end by Seppi, who saved three match points in the penultimate game on his own serve before the Swiss brought proceedings to a rapid close after 1hr:23min.
Federer's win lifted his season mark to 18-4 as he seeks his first title of 2009.
Russian Nikolay Davydenko, seeded sixth, returned to the circuit after two months out with a heel injury, starting with a 6-46-3 victory over Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic.
Spanish seventh seed Fernando Verdasco advanced over German Philip Kohlschreiber 6-36-4.
Later, top-ranked Rafael Nadal, bidding for a fifth straight Monte Carlo title, was erratic in a 6-36-2 win over Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina . - Sapa-AFP