Federer starts his clay season with a win

Federer starts his clay season with a win Monte Carlo - Roger Federer and Davis Cup teammate Stanislas Wawrinka advanced into a Swiss showdown in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday as Federer kick-started his spring clay season.

The newly-married second seed had to fight through as Italian Andreas Seppi saved three match points before exiting 6-4, 6-4 to the 13-time Grand Slam champion.

Number 13 Wawrinka spent more than two and a half hours in his struggle with Argentine Marcello Vassallo Arguello to seize a 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory.

Federer and Wawrinka have played twice on the ATP, with Federer taking a 2-0 lead into their first meeting on clay.

They also played at the start of the year at the AAMI Classic in Melbourne, which resulted in another Federer victory in the unofficial Australian Open tuneup event.

Federer was playing his first match since marrying longtime girlfriend Mirka Vanrinec last weekend in his hometown of Basel.

He has lost the last three Monte Carlo finals to Rafael Nadal, with the Spanish top seed due to play later on Wednesday.

Seppi had his heroic stand in the penultimate game, finally holding serve as he saved three match points. But Federer finished off the win in just under 90 minutes a game later as he improved to 18-4 on the season.

Russian Nikolay Davydenko made his return from a heel injury by defeating Croatian Ivo Karlovic, 6-4, 6-3. Spanish seventh seed Fernando Verdasco advanced over German Philip Kohlschreiber, 6-3, 6-4. (dpa)