PARIS (AFP) - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both made short work of their second round opponents to reach the last 16 at the Paris Masters on Wednesday.
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.
Nevertheless, 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. 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).
"It's very pleasant to play matches like this one," said 17-time major winner Federer. "Of course I like great battles, playing two, three, four, five hours. But 47 minutes is always very pleasant. You need to focus a lot for the very short time you are on the court, not to make any mistakes."
Nadal took just 61 minutes to send old foe Lukas Rosol crashing out, defeating the big-serving Czech 6-2, 6-2.
Rosol famously stunned Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012, but he was outplayed from start to finish by the seventh seed, whose struggles in the Paris hard-court tournament are in stark contrast to his dominance on clay on the other side of the city at the French Open where he has won nine times.
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.
"And I have to keep working hard on my first serve and second serves. Today was a good day of serve. I served well. Need to keep practising every day a little bit of my serve."
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.
By a quirk of fate that win set up a last-16 round encounter with David Goffin, who will be the main obstacle in Murray's path in Belgium later this month when he tries to win a first Davis Cup for Britain since 1936.
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.
Crowd favourite Tsonga, the champion in 2008, provided a perfect finish for the Paris fans with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.