World number one Roger Federer shrugged off his surprise loss in the Estoril semi-finals last weekend and defeated Germany's Benjamin Becker 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to reach the third round at the Madrid Masters on Tuesday.
Federer - the title holder - has yet to produce a significant winning run on clay this season with his defence of the French Open title starting in less than a fortnight.
But his win in 81 minutes did ahuge amoutn for his confidence after a Rome second-round loss and last weekend's defeat in Portugal.
"I had a lot of good serving, my goal was to play a clean match," said the 16-time grand slam champion, winner here a year ago defeating arch-rival Rafael Nadal.
"I also served solid.
"That's a tough combination for an opponent."
Becker saved two match points in the 12th game of the second set before the contest went to a tiebreak.
Federer recovered from 1-3 down in the tiebreak and sealed his place in the third round on the first of three match points as the German, ranked 46th, fired wide.
"The moment the match started, I felt great," said the Swiss. "I was hitting the ball well, this court just feels right and that showed in my game."
The top seed admitted that claiming the tiebreaker after trailing was key to the victory. He missed a first match point on a forehand error but secured victory on his second chance of three.
"I've lost many tight matches lately. you always worry out there that maybe something's not working the way you want it to work.
"I should have won on the first match point. I thought I had a margin and the ball got stuck on the net cord tape.
"If nerves had crept in, it might have been tough to try and close out the third set after missing a huge chance. But I'm happy how I reacted - this is just what I needed in my game."
Last weekend Federer went down in straight sets to Alberto Montanes at Estoril in heavy, wet conditions.
But the Spaniard's celebrations lasted just a few days as he was beaten on Tuesday by Latvian Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-1. Also in the first round, Federer's 15th-seeded compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-4, 6-4.
Russian tenth seed Mikhail Youzhny followed up his Munich title by defeating Lukasz Lacko 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.
On the women's side, Australian Samantha Stosur maintained her fine run on clay by dispatching the Rome champion, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
Eighth-seeded Stosur prevailed 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 and will next play Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder, who upset Polish ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Stosur, a French Open semi-finalist last year, has blossomed on the clay this spring, winning Charleston and reaching the final in Stuttgart.
She has won 13 of her last 14 matches on the surface.
"I tried to feel as comfortable as I could. It's pretty cold so it's hard to get the body going and really feel yourself into the match in some ways," said the winner.
"I knew she'd been playing well - you don't win Rome without playing well. We've played five times in the last five months, so we both knew what to expect.
"It was whoever did the better job on the day."
Schnyder, aged 31 and ranked 48th in the world, mounted a comeback to stun Radwanska for a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head series.
The Swiss broke six times in the two-hour victory, her tenth of a modest season against eight losses.
Alona Bondarenka of the Ukraine upset second seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-3 while Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues knocked out another seed with her defeat of French number 12 seed Marion Bartoli 6-2, 6-0.
China's number 13 seed Li Na went through, beating Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.