ROME - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have stepped their French Open preparations up a gear to advance without any problems in their opening matches at the Rome Masters.
Federer's last-minute decision to compete was rewarded immediately as he coasted to a 6-3 6-4 second-round win over Argentinian journeyman Carlos Berlocq on Wednesday.
Nadal slayed a mental dragon as he earned revenge against Florian Mayer 6-1 7-5 after losing to the German last year in Shanghai.
Second seed Nadal won the first set on a double break, with a break for 6-5 in the second paving the way to the win.
"The first set was important," said the Spaniard. "I felt good with my forehand. It's tough to play Mayer, he gives you on rhythm."
Federer was back on court just three days after winning the Madrid title on the controversial blue clay, an event where rivals Novak Djokovic and Nadal fell by the wayside - both of them fiercely critical of the slick surface.
But with a ferocious series of tests over the next four months including the French Open, Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the US Open, Federer was not about to overload his program unnecessarily.