Rafa races to Monte Carlo win

The Spaniard has been searching for form after a difficult start to the year, but his confidence would have been boosted by a ruthless 6-2 6-1 win over the Frenchman on his favourite surface.

With Nadal pushing for an early break, Pouille resisted in impressive fashion as he thundered down a smash to protect serve.

But the Mallorca man, free from his fitness problems, continued to bludgeon his opponent to the back of the court and a loose lob handed him an early break.

Worse was to follow for the Frenchman as he gifted Nadal another break, and the set, with a wayward backhand.

The eight-time champion was handing out a harsh tutorial to the 21-year-old, who was broken again in the second following a fierce cross-court forehand.

Pouille watched helplessly when a sliced backhand pass drifted past him as Nadal paired delicate touches with brute force.

He brought up victory with two superb forehands, securing match point with a fizzing effort before sending an inch-perfect exocet down the line. ?? ??