MONTE CARLO: King of clay Rafael Nadal will begin his countdown to more glory at Roland Garros when he starts his clay season against Juan Chela at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The Spaniard who has won the last four Monte Carlo editions at the Country Club overlooking the Mediterranean will face the Argentine who beat Russian Igor Kunitsyn 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 in the first round.

"I have to play good tennis if I want chances to win," the world number 1 said Monday.

"That's what I'm gonna try. I must play aggressive without a lot of mistakes."

The winner of eight Masters 1000 titles on clay in the last four years said that even at his advanced skills level, re-adjustment is an annual ordeal.

"In the last years I had very good results on clay," said the four-time French Open champion, who stands 24-1 in Monte Carlo. "But I only play three, four tournaments every year on it.

"The rest of the year I play on hard. It's always a change to adapt to clay, I need some days. If I find my best performance I gonna have chances to have good results."

While Nadal was speaking, newlywed Roger Federer kept an unusually low profile.

But the second seed will have to get down to business quickly after taking a wildcard at the last moment and then announcing that he and longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec were married at the weekend.

But Federer apparently went to ground on his tennis honeymoon, with even the ATP unable to contact the Swiss.

Nadal had a quiet joke when asked about his upcoming personal plans.

"I am thinking about that, be married and be father right now for the next years," he said before smiling in resignation and getting back to the tennis topic.

Unseeded players scored first-round wins with Spain's Oscar Hernandez creating French disappointment with his defeat of Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-4. Compatriot Marcello Granollers beat Jose Acasuso of Argentina 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/2).

Brit Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, winner and finalist respectively at the Miami Masters which ended on cement just eight days ago, quietly talked up their chances.

Djokovic is still licking his wounds from his Miami mauling by Murray, who is within a hair-thin 1709 ranking points of seizing the number 3 spot from his Serbian opposition.

And Djokovic is not exactly exuding confidence.

"So far so good," said the Serb. "I didn't have a long time to adjust to new surface and conditions.

"But I've played Davis Cup on clay which helps me a little bit. And here I feel at home, I know these courts really well and have been training for a few days already so I feel fine."

Murray's spirits are riding high as he leads the ATP with three titles this season.

The Scot has it all to gain on clay after never reaching a quarter-final on the surface. Since arriving in the principality on Friday he's been hard at work with specialised clay trainer Alex Corretja added to the team.

"I'm hitting the ball fine but takes time to get used to movement," said the fourth seed.

"I haven hit a ball on clay since the French last year so it been ten-11 months.

"I'm just getting used to sliding, not being 100 percent sure under your feet takes a bit of time."

Murray is counting on his bulked-up body to help him this spring, with hope that his December fitness month will pay more dividends.

"Physical strength is important for me, and on the clay you need to be consistent with mentality and strokes. If you are stronger physically it's not like you will panic when you are feeling tired, you know you can get through the match."