Monte Carlo, Monaco, 18 April 2013 | AFP

Rafael Nadal has made a predictably successful return to his beloved clay on Wednesday, starting his quest for a ninth straight Monte Carlo Masters title with a 6-1 6-2 defeat of Australia’s Marinko Matosevic.

The Spanish third seed was totally in his comfort zone on another sunny, warm day on the Mediterranean, brushing aside the Australian in 62 minutes.

He won the first seven points of the match, with Matosevic earning only two points in the first four games.

The Spaniard ended with 15 winners, eight unforced errors and conversions on six of nine break point chances in the crowd-pleasing display.

“I played well with the right feelings and doing the right things, so I’m very happy,” he said.

“I had the right intensity, with no mistakes. I was trying to find a good feeling on the ball, to find the right rhythm. And I think I did, no? That gives me confidence.”