World number two Novak Djokovic reached the Madrid Open third round by winning his first match since parting company with his coaching staff on Friday.
Kei Nishikori recovered from a awful start to beat Argentine Diego Schwartzman 1-6, 6-0, 6-4 and faces David Ferrer next.
The latter took on the charismatic Italian Fabio Fognini, now ranked 29 but a former No13, and a man who won three of his five matches against Nadal in 2015, two on clay.
Djokovic will hope to get more looks next round against Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who defeated Gilles Simon 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (3). "My level of tennis was not so high today, but I managed to make it through".
"It feels great, I don't know how I did it but I played ideal during the game and I'm very happy about it", Coric told Television Espanola. "I didn't give him any opportunities".
"I'm still finding my way to that consistency level and quality of tennis that I'm looking for", Djokovic said. "I was very close to losing it, as well".
A tidy win sends Djokovic into the quarterfinals against Kei Nishikori, who denied David Ferrer his 700th career victory with a clinical 6-4, 6-3, conquest that spanned 85 minutes. He withdrew from Barcelona last month because of a right wrist injury. "My physical condition is also getting better".
"He's one of the most hard players you can play", Nadal said of the big-ball-striking Aussie.
Djokovic held and, when Lopez committed three unforced errors at 6-5, there was only going to be one victor. "Hopefully getting better and better".
Novak Djokovic came back with a vengeance to win six consecutive games, finishing the last with a tidy drop shot.
That was squandered after an errant backhand and, from there on out, the Serb was beginning to display all the qualities that characterized his period of dominance a year ago. Lopez snuffed it out, lashing a forehand victor and a biting serve to level.
But as he did not appeal to the umpire to climb down to check the mark, his haphazard forehand was not returned by Lopez and the point was awarded to the Serb.
Lopez briefly questioned chair umpire Damien Dumusois, who replied: "He looked at the mark and did not say anything".
Instead, this Djokovic just walked to the net, cold and head bowed, shook hands with Almagro and disappeared.
This had been a fine test, perhaps just what the under-played Djokovic needed as undergoes important transitions off court-as well as dispensing with his coaching team, he is to become a father for the second time later this year.
Neither man was stressed on serve for much of the set. He was up 3-love. By then, the left-hander with the smooth service motion had won 12 of 13 points played on his serve in the second set.
"Of course, at the end, 5-5, 0-30 we had a couple of really long points".
"I guess it's normal that people start coming up with names".
I'm not going to say anything about that. "So to win the matches like this definitely helps confidence".
"Tomorrow there's going to be one victor, that's Uniqlo I'm sure", Djokovic joked, referring to the Japanese casual wear label that sponsors the duo.
David Goffin broke serve four times carving up fifth-seeded Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-2.
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