Madrid - Rafael Nadal insisted on Wednesday that it would be "arrogant" to consider himself the Madrid Masters favourite following the shock exit of world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
Nadal began his campaign with a 6-3, 6-4 win over French world number 37 Benoit Paire to reach the third round.
Djokovic's defeat to Grigor Dmitrov on Tuesday has made Nadal the strong favourite to claim his third title in Madrid.
But Nadal says he is not looking beyond his next opponent - Nicolas Almagro or Mikhail Youzhny - and that given the standard of men's tennis at the moment an upset is possible in every round.
"I'm not looking beyond the next round, it would be arrogant to do that so I am not going to do it," he said.
"This is a Masters 1000, all the best players in the world are there and there are things that can happen.
"Novak is having a fantastic year, but he played against a very young player that is doing very well and against who I was on the brink of losing to in Monte Carlo.
"With this level you can go out of the tournament at any point."
On Wednesday, one break in each set was enough for 11-time Grand Slam winner Nadal and he was particularly grateful for an incredible forehand reply to a Paire smash that saved the only break point against his own serve early in the second set.
"It was a difficult game, because he is an uncomfortable opponent that doesn't give you rhythm," Nadal told a press conference.
"I had a difficult moment with the break point in the second set that I don't know how I saved, but fortunately I was able to do so."
Results from the fifth day of the ATP Madrid Masters and WTA Madrid Open on Wednesday (x denotes seeding):
Rafael Nadal (ESP x5) bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3, 6-4
Thomas Berdych (CZE x6) bt Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-2
Kei Nishikori (JPN x14) bt Viktor Troicki (SRB) 7-5, 6-2
Tommy Haas (GER x13) bt Tommy Robredo (ESP) 6-3, 7-5
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x7) bt Robin Haase (NED) 7-6(7/5), 7-6(7/1)
Kevin Anderson (RSA) bt Juan Monaco (ARG) 7-6(7/5), 3-6, 6-4
David Ferrer (ESP x4) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 7-5, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) bt Victoria Azarenka (BLR x3) 1-6, 6-2, 6-3
Kaia Kanepi (EST) bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 6-3, 6-1
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) bt Julia Goerges (GER) w/o
Maria Kirilenko (RUS x13) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4
Angelique Kerber (GER x6) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5