Djokovic, Nadal fight on as Wawrinka bows out
Things were far from straightforward for Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who both required three sets to reach the third round in Madrid.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal survived scares to stay in the hunt for glory at the Madrid Open, but Stan Wawrinka bowed out.
Reigning champion Djokovic was taken to three sets by wildcard Nicolas Almagro before triumphing 6-1 4-6 7-5, while Nadal also had to battle through a mammoth encounter to beat Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-4.
Wawrinka found things troubling too, but Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov were among the seeds to advance, with Nishikori the only one not getting things done in straight sets.
Borna Coric downed Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-5 6-4 to set up a third-round match against world number one Andy Murray, but Marin Cilic went down to Alexander Zverev and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pulled out due to injury.
DJOKOVIC, NADAL FIGHT ON
In his first match since parting ways with the entirety of his coaching staff, it was a similar story for Djokovic up against Almagro. After breezing through the first set his confidence slipped at a pivotal moment, with the Spaniard breaking him to force a decider.
Djokovic found himself a break down in the third but fought back to set up a third-round clash with Feliciano Lopez, a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-3) victor against Gilles Simon.
Things were by no means routine for the in-form Nadal either. After taking the titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, an ear infection affected his preparation for a tilt in Madrid.
Fognini dictated much of the play but Nadal ground out the first set and showed resilience to break for the match immediately after dropping his serve in the decider.
STAN'S CLAY MALAISE CONTINUES
World number three Wawrinka looked in dire straits when he trailed Benoit Paire 7-5 2-2 as play was stopped to close the roof amid torrential rain in Madrid.
Reinvigorated after the restart he managed to force a decider despite throwing away a set point and handing back the break advantage he held in the following game, but Paire struck an early blow by moving 2-0 up in the decider.
The Frenchman maintained a strong serve and stole another break in game seven before claiming match point with a hold at the second attempt.
After failing to make the quarter-finals at the Monte-Carlo Masters, the 2015 French Open winner will be hoping for drastic improvement at the Internazionali d'Italia next week.
NEVER TOO LATE TO VIDEO CHAT
Nick Kyrgios was getting ready for his match against Ryan Harrison when he did something that only he would do.
The Australian made a quick video call, which he later clarified was to his girlfriend and fellow tennis player Ajla Tomljanovic, while waiting for his opponent at the side of the court.
Kyrgios was by no means distracted once the action got underway, though, seeing off the American 6-3 6-3 in just 58 minutes. A meeting with Nadal in the third round is his reward.
TSONGA NEEDS SHOULDER TO CRY ON
Tsonga required three sets to overcome qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov on Monday and he was unable to take to the court for his second-round match against David Ferrer a day later.
The 10th seed pulled out due to a shoulder injury, but assured fans he is confident of being fit to feature on home clay at the French Open.
"It is important for me to tell you that my withdrawal from the tournament in Madrid does not call my preparation into question and I am confident for the future," Tsonga wrote on Facebook.
Ferrer will face Nishikori in the third round after the Japanese beat Diego Schwartzman 1-6 6-0 6-4.