Novak Djokovic claimed back-to-back wins for just the third time this year by defeating Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-2 in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia.
After dismantling Alexandr Dolgopolov in his opening outing in Rome, Djokovic continued to show signs he is on an upward trajectory following a difficult return from a persistent elbow injury.
The Serbian started the week as world number 18 – his lowest ranking since October 2006 – and he could use a repeat of his 2017 run to the final in order to avoid slipping further down the standings.
Djokovic proved strong in the rallies and wore out Basilashvili to book a third-round meeting against Albert Ramos Vinolas, who defeated John Isner earlier on Wednesday.
Four-time champion Djokovic served his opening three games out to love but escaped four break points at 3-3 unscathed with his trademark grit and determination.
The Serbian let out a huge roar when his hold was confirmed by Basilashvili's failure to return serve and he gave the Georgian the runaround before firing a forehand into the left corner on set point.
An early break to love put Djokovic in command in the second and his opponent appeared to be becoming increasingly tired as the wind picked up on Pietrangeli.
The 30-year-old mixed up his shots, forcing his opponent deep and wide before going short, as he continued to work Basilashvili, who double faulted to fall in Rome in disappointing fashion.