Roger Federer began his attempt to claim back-to-back clay-court titles with a routine straight-sets win over Carlos Berlocq in the Rome Masters.
Federer, who moved up to second in the world rankings after lifting the title in Madrid last week, claimed a 6-3 6-4 victory over his Argentinian opponent in the first meeting between the pair.
The Swiss dropped just six points on his first serve and was broken once in the 70-minute match.
Federer clubbed 16 winners in the opening set, breaking his opponent in his opening service game before closing out the set with relative ease.
Berloq offered some resistance early in the second before the 16-time grand slam champion clinched the break in the fifth game.
The Argentine however, surprised all when he broke back immediately and threatened to take the world number two to a deciding set .
But Federer dug deep to regain the break advantage in the ninth game and seal the win to set up a meeting with Spanish veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero.
"I have a good win under my belt and I might be No 3 next week, but that doesn't matter for me and Rafa," Federer told atpworldtour.com.
"I know it is an interesting time right now and that there is a lot to talk about rankings. I know that I have a shot until the US Open with the [No 1 South African Airways ATP] rankings and you will see."
Rafael Nadal continued to shake off the bad memories of last week's blue clay misery in Madrid as he coasted through with a 6-1 7-5 win over Florian Mayer.
Nadal did not lose a point on his first serve in a dominant first set against Germany's world number 28, and although Mayer rallied in the second the top seed stepped up when it mattered to wrap up an 81-minute victory.
Nadal's next opponent will be another Spaniard, Marcel Granollers, who beat Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-4, while Argentina's Juan Monaco will play top seed Novak Djokovic in round three after beating Radek Stepanek 6-4 6-2.
Eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic, conqueror of fellow Serb Djokovic last week, was a surprise casualty as he fell 6-3 6-1 to Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka, and ninth seed John Isner also went out 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 to Italy's Andreas Seppi.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro dispatched Russia's Mikhail Youzhny 6-4 6-2 and there were also wins for seventh seed Tomas Berdych, 11th seed Gilles Simon, 12th seed Nicolas Almagro and 16th seed Richard Gasquet, who will now face Briton Andy Murray.