Novak Djokovic saw off a spirited challenge from Croatian teenager Borna Coric to book his place in the Madrid Open last 16.
Nadal and Djokovic head a very impressive cast
The world number one was making his first appearance since his shock second round defeat at the hands of Jiri Vesely at the Monte Carlo Masters last month.
But despite an encouraging display from his 19-year-old opponent, Djokovic was too strong and came through comfortably 6-2 6-4 to set up a last 16 meeting with Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.
Djokovic admitted in a recent interview that he has been in need of some rest and the extended break looks to have served him well as he was never troubled on his own serve by Coric.
Three breaks of the Croatian’s serve throughout was enough for the Serb to get the job done, the first coming in game four of the first set.
Djokovic consolidated his lead before breaking in the eighth game to wrap up the first set.
Coric improved in the second set but could muster little threat to Djokovic’s serve and this time one break was to prove enough for Djokovic who wrapped up the match in 1 hour 38 minutes by breaking at 5-4 to clinch his last 16 spot.
His next opponent will be two-time winner this season Bautista Agut, who needed three sets to overcome fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
Djokovic will be hoping for a long run in Spain in the aim of upping his preparations ahead of the French Open later this month, and despite insisting it’s not an obsession to win it, Roland Garros remains the one Grand Slam the formidable world number one has yet to claim.
Also in Djokovic’s half of the draw is 11th seed Milos Raonic, who continued his impressive Masters season with victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov and both Richard Gasquet and Kei Nishikori advanced despite scares.