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|Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to US Taylor Fritz during their ATP Madrid Open round of 64 tennis match. (Photo: AFP/Oscar Del Pozo)|
Top seed and world number one Djokovic hammered American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the last 16 following a premature exit here a year ago.
"I thought my serve was very efficient today, that's a big advantage," Djokovic said.
"The match was close at the beginning, in the second set I read his serve better and just managed to put an extra ball in to the court.
"It was a solid opening match for me."
Djokovic won the Madrid title in 2011 and 2016. He will be chasing a fourth straight Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros next month.
Third seed Roger Federer was making his clay return after two full seasons off the surface when he faced Frenchman Richard Gasquet later in the second round after a bye.
Djokovic was joined in the third round as ninth seed Marin Cilic rallied to overcome Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Spanish sentimental favourite David Ferrer, who will retire after this event, extended his career by at least one match with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 defeat of compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut.
Ferrer, 37, will play German third seed and defending champion Alexander Zverev next.
Unseeded treble Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka started his Madrid campaign with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert to move into the second round.
"It was a great first match. I've been good on the practice court, feeling really good, so it was important to start well today," Wawrinka said.
"I hope my game is going to click soon. I'm patient enough to know that sometimes it takes time," said the Swiss player, who underwent two knee surgeries in August 2017.
"I'm playing well and feeling well on the court. I still have some big results inside me so hopefully they can come sooner than later.
"I'm ready to keep working the right way to get back in a better place and to win more matches and hopefully get later in the tournament."
Wawrinka will next play Argentine Guido Pella, who put out Barcelona finalist Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
Tenth seed Fabio Fognini beat Kyle Edmund 6-4, 6-3 to saddle the Briton with a fourth straight loss on clay.
Fognini was playing for the first time since winning Monte Carlo after withdrawing from Barcelona and Estoril with a thigh injury.
HALEP AT HOME
In the women's draw, top seed Osaka defeated Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-0.
Japan's Osaka, winner of the last two Grand Slams, said she had to conquer her inner demons to finish off a difficult match.
"In the third set, I just, like, went zombie mode," she said.
"I just thought of everything that I had to do to win - not necessarily the outcome, but just like the little things in between every game.
"The match was basically on my racquet, she wasn't going for winners.
"The points ended by me making a winner or an unforced error. But I was a bit unfocused in the second set."
Third seed and two-time champion Simona Halep of Romania ended the hopes of Johanna Konta 7-5, 6-1 in the second round.
The Briton had made a dash to Madrid on Sunday evening after playing the Rabat clay final. Konta won her opening match against Alison Riske but could not match Halep, the defending French Open champion.
"I feel good every time when I come to Madrid and I'm happy to be back and winning matches," Halep said.
"It was a good match. Both of us played very well and, in the end, I was a bit stronger mentally and I found a rhythm."
Fourth seed Angelique Kerber withdrew after rolling her right ankle during training, sending Petra Martic into the third round.