Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have both made short work of their second-round opponents to reach the last 16 at the Paris Masters.
Between them, the two tennis greats have just one win in what is traditionally the last of the year’s nine Masters 1000 series events, that coming in 2011 when Federer defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.
Nadal, who has missed the tournament several times through injury, reached the final in 2007, but lost.
But the manner of their play on Wednesday sent a clear message to their rivals that they are both primed for success this year.
Federer produced a near-perfect display to open his campaign with a 6-1 6-1 win over Italian Andreas Seppi.
Playing for the first time in the refurbished Paris Bercy indoor stadium where the capacity has been increased to over 20,000, Federer was sharp from the start.
He next goes up against John Isner for a place in the quarter-finals, the giant American getting the better of Britain’s Aljaz Bedene 6-3 7-6 (7-3).
Nadal took 61 minutes to send old foe Lukas Rosol crashing out, defeating the big-serving Czech 6-2 6-2.
The Spaniard, who has had a testing year with injuries and loss of form, believes that his improving game is still a work in progress with next year in the back of his mind.
“The thing that I need to keep improving is obviously the serve,” he said.
“I am returning much better. That’s a very important thing for me. But I have to keep working on that. The return can be a big change for me next year.
Nadal goes on to play the winner of the tie between South African Kevin Anderson and Austrian youngster Dominic Thiem on Thursday for a place in the quarter-finals.
In keeping with the rapid-fire action, Andy Murray stormed through with a 59-minute, 6-1 6-2 hammering of Croatian youngster Borna Coric.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori produced a storming final set to defeat home hope Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (6-8) 6-1, setting up a last-16 clash against top-ranked Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who eased past Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-2, 7-5.
Grigor Dimitrov upset Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2), while fifth seed Tomas Berdych held off France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3 4-6 7-5