Madrid: World number one Rafa Nadal began his quest for a third claycourt title in a month with a 6-1, 6-3 drubbing of unseeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the Madrid Masters second round Wednesday.
Third seed Roger Federer had a much less comfortable time and saved a match point before finishing off unseeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-6 , 6-7, 7-6.
Novak Djokovic, the world number two, maintained his unbeaten start to the year with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over unseeded South African Kevin Anderson while fourth-seeded Briton Andy Murray went through 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 against Gilles Simon of France.
Nadal, who won back-to-back tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona last month, did not face a break point on his serve and converted his first match point when he whipped a trademark forehand winner down the line.
The victory over Baghdatis took the 24-year-old Spaniard`s record on clay since 2005 to 187 wins and six defeats and set up a last-16 meeting with Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.
The resurgent former world number four dismissed Croat Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-0 as he continued his comeback from a wrist injury.
Nadal said he would like to have avoided the powerful Del Potro so early in the tournament.
"It`s one of those matches you can win or lose and anything could happen," he said. "I will try to play at my top level, aggressively and with more intensity.”
"I am coming into the match in good form and I will try to maintain that. The winner will take away a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament."
Federer had to draw on all his experience to see off an inspired Lopez in a match that riveted the capacity crowd in the Magic Box arena for almost three hours.
"You have been there before so you don`t get too carried away and at the end of the day it`s just a tennis match," said the Swiss who faces unseeded Belgian Xavier Malisse Thursday.
"I am really relieved to have come through."
Australian Open champion Djokovic has won all his 28 matches this season and is closing in on Ivan Lendl`s 29 victories at the start of 1986, the third best after John McEnroe (42) in 1984 and Bjorn Borg (33) in 1980.
"It`s a great honour and very flattering to be part of that elite but it`s not my priority," said the 23-year-old Serb who has won five titles this year.
"It`s kind of a surprise but I always believed I had the quality to beat any player. I am more mature and I have more self-belief which is very important for this level."
Djokovic next faces unseeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez for a place in Friday`s quarter-finals.
The altitude in Madrid, which is around 650 metres above sea level, makes the ball fly through the air faster and Djokovic said if there was any clay court where Nadal was vulnerable it was here.
"It`s hard to control the ball," he said."You don`t get that much time and control on these courts and if you serve well it`s an advantage.”
"I think there are players who can win against Rafa here. If there is any court where he can be beaten it`s here. Nobody is invincible, not him or anyone else."
Murray next plays Thomaz Bellucci who went through when Germany`s Florian Mayer retired with the Brazilian leading 3-0 in the deciding set.
"I actually don`t know that much about him," Murray said. "I know clay is probably his best surface. I have never practised with him and never played against him."
Fifth-seeded Swede Robin Soderling, the last man to beat Nadal on clay in the fourth round at the French Open in 2009, advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Colombian Santiago Giraldo.
Czech Tomas Berdych, the seventh seed, saw off Spanish wildcard Marcel Granollers 6-4, 6-0 but eighth-seeded Austrian Juergen Melzer lost 7-6, 6-3 to Spanish qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver.