MADRID: Novak Djokovic overcame stiff resistance from Feliciano Lopez to book his place in the quarter-finals of Madrid Masters with a 6-4, 7-5 win on Thursday.
Djokovic had battled back from 3-0 down in the deciding set in his opening match against Nicolas Almagro in the Spanish capital on Wednesday.
And, although not pushed that far by Lopez, the Serb is still struggling to rekindle the form that saw him hold all four Grand Slams just under a year ago.
Djokovic was, though, dominant on serve throughout, facing only one break point in the opening game of the second set.
And the 12-time Grand Slam champion applied just enough pressure at the right time to break Lopez’s serve in the final game of both sets.
Djokovic faces a much tougher test on Friday against world number eight Kei Nishikori, who earlier swept aside David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3.
World number one Andy Murray is in action later against Croatia’s Borna Coric.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal’s quest for a third straight title after wins in Monte Carlo and Barcelona faces a stiff test against Nick Kyrgios in the night session.
David Goffin awaits the winner of Nadal’s clash with Australian Kyrgios as the Belgian beat world number six Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2.
In the women’s Madrid Open, third seed Simona Halep remains on course to defend her title as she thrashed American Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-1.
Halep faces Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in Friday’s semi-finals after the world number 22 saw off Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.