Results went to script in the men’s draw at the Western and Southern Open, with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal emerging unscathed on Wednesday.
Top seed Djokovic came from a break down in the first against Benoit Paire, before racing to a 7-5 6-2 win over the lucky loser in Cincinnati.
Paire offered stern resistance to the world number one’s bid to get through his opening match at the ATP 1000 hard-court event, the Frenchman first to a break – and despite conceding it straight back, Paire went on to save seven set points to force 5-5.
However, Djokovic would break in the 12th game to 15, and immediately so for a 2-0 second-set lead.
Paire got straight back on level terms at 2-2, but Djokovic earned consecutive breaks to surge to victory.
Murray played villain in the penultimate tournament of Mardy Fish’s career, the third seed beating the American wildcard 6-4 7-6 (7-1).
Fish, ranked some 703 spots lower than Murray, echoed Paire’s challenge to Djokovic, getting the first break of serve in the match.
Murray, though, got back on his terms with break points in each of Fish’s next four service games, breaking in three of those to take the opener.
Fish – who will retire after the US Open – broke twice for an advantage in the second, but he gave it straight back as many times before Murray coasted in the tie-break.
Eighth seed Nadal needed five match points to get past Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-4.
Stan Wawrinka (5), Richard Gasquet (12), David Goffin (13) and Kevin Anderson (15) were the other seeds to progress.
Wawrinka survived a challenge from Borna Coric 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 – the fifth seed broken twice in the opener, but did not even give the Croatian a look at a break point thereafter as he advanced.
Gasquet saw off qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6 (7-5) 6-2, while Goffin wasted the chance to serve out the match against Fernando Verdsaco before eventually progressing 6-4 7-6 (7-4).
It was a bad day overall for the Americans, with Fish one of four to exit the draw.
South Africa’s Anderson got past Jack Sock 6-3 7-6 (9-7), Jerzy Janowicz beat wildcard Jared Donaldson 6-4 7-6 (7-4) and Tommy Robredo overcame Sam Querrey 6-1 5-7 6-3.
Feliciano Lopez awaits Nadal in the third round, after he surpassed Andreas Seppi 7-6 (8-6) 6-2.
Other third-round match-ups will see Djokovic and Goffin go head-to-head, Wawrinka up against Ivo Karlovic, Gasquet facing US Open champion Marin Cilic, Murray taking on 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer go toe-to-toe with Anderson.