An aching Roger Federer made a seamless transition from slick blue clay to the slower red dirt on Wednesday as he saw off Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 6-3 6-4 to reach the third round of the Rome Masters.
The Swiss only decided to play after his morning practice session, carrying a few aches and pains following his Madrid Masters title win last weekend.
Second seed Rafa Nadal, beaten in the third round on the blue clay in Madrid, looked delighted to be back on the red stuff as he beat German Florian Mayer 6-1 7-5.
Adjusting from the slippery blue clay to the far slower red clay of the Foro Italico with ease, Federer conceded he had been unsure what to do up to the very last minute.
"I wanted to see how I felt and make sure that I didn't have anything major because we're ahead of a long summer," he told a news conference.
"If this was the last tournament of the season it would be no problem. But as this is the beginning of many tournaments in a row, potentially a lot of five-setters in a row, I need to make sure I make good decisions, so I go round by round.
"I'm happy that I felt OK out there today."
A good performance this week from Federer, who now plays former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero, would help him to close the gap on Novak Djokovic in top spot.
"I might be world number three again next week but that doesn't matter for Rafa (the number three) and myself," he said.
"It's interesting times right now and I know there's going to be a lot of talk about the rankings.
"What I know is that I'll have a shot until the U.S. Open, whatever shape or form with the rankings, and we'll see how it's going to play. Right now I'm just happy I'm healthy."
Mayer beat Nadal the last time they played, in Shanghai last year, but on his favoured clay, the Spaniard never allowed him to really get a foothold in the match.
"It is an important victory," Nadal said. "In the first set I played aggressively. Mayer put me in difficulty with his serve but I don't think I ever suffered."
Tomas Berdych, beaten by Federer in the Madrid final, eased past Lukas Kubot 6-4 6-1 to reach round three, while Juan Martin Del Potro also advanced.