Nadal, who has a mediocre 16-5 record this year, got the flawless start he was hoping for Wednesday at the Monte Carlo
"Today I (will) go back to the hotel with a fantastic feeling because I played probably (my) best match of the year," Nadal said.
The switch to clay was also enjoyable for second-seeded
Nadal won eight consecutive titles in Monte Carlo from 2005-12 but has been struggling recently, dropping to fifth in the rankings. Now in the European clay-court season, the nine-time
After recovering from a wrist injury and an appendectomy, Nadal lost in the quarterfinals at the
Following his loss to
"With this new racket, I have less control," Nadal said. "Not today. In theory I have less control. In theory I have more power and more spin."
On Wednesday, the 14-time Grand Slam champion was in total control. He limited his mistakes to five unforced errors and did not face a single break point against an opponent ranked 108th by the ATP.
"I played with the right mentality, the right concentration," Nadal said. "I didn't make (consecutive) mistakes, something that happened the last couple months with me. I fixed that today."
A forehand passing shot gave Nadal a 3-1 lead in the second set, and he broke again in the sixth game before serving out the match at love.
Pouille was impressed.
"His balls are different from any other player. They have this spin, plus they bounce a lot higher," Pouille said. "He was able to take advantage of my weaknesses. He was very solid and he played better and better as the match went on."
Nadal will face a trickier test in the next round against big-serving
"He is a very dangerous player on any surface because his serve works well on clay, hard, indoor, everywhere," Nadal said.
The seventh-seeded Wawrinka produced a convincing 6-1, 6-4 win over clay-court specialist