A frank Roger Federer admits his injury trouble means he has no chance of winning the ATP Internazionali d'Italia despite overcoming Mischa Zverev in round two, while a below-par Novak Djokovic joined Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal in the third round.
Federer made his return from a month-long lay-off with a troublesome back by beating rising star Zverev 6-3 7-5 on the Rome clay.
However, Federer stated after the victory he is unsure as to whether he will be fit to play Dominic Thiem in round three on Thursday.
The 17-time grand slam champion, who also underwent knee surgery this year, has never won the tournament despite reach the final four times and the Swiss believes that fact is not about to change.
"It would be wonderful to win, but not this year. It won't happen. I'm too far off. I'm so far off that it won't happen," he told a news conference.
"But of course maybe next year. Maybe sometime down the road. I don't know. But I would have loved to win it. Unfortunately, it has never happened."
FEDERER CLOSES IN ON LENDL'S OPEN ERA WINS
Federer may be struggling physically, but his victory over 19-year-old Zverev takes him to 1,070 wins in the Open Era, just one short of Ivan Lendl, who is second on the all-time list.
The 34-year-old, whose last match was against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Monte Carlo last month, can match the record against Thiem, if he is passed fit to play.
DJOKOVIC RELIEVED TO SEE OFF UNPREDICTABLE ROBERT
World number one Djokovic defeated Murray in a three-set thriller to win the Madrid Open on Sunday, the third Masters 1000 title he has won this season.
But the usually cool Serbian was made to work hard for his 34th win of another brilliant season, with Frenchman Stephane Robert even going a break up early in the second set.
Djokovic soon hit his stride, though, and reflected on a tough afternoon, saying: "The player that I played against was very unpredictable with his shots. He was going for some shots that were amazing."
NO MAURESMO, NO WORRIES FOR MURRAY AS NADAL IS TOO HOT FOR KOHLSCHREIBER
After losing his Madrid Open crown to Djokovic, Murray's French Open preparations took another hit when he announced his split from coach Amelie Mauresmo this week.
However, the Briton - who has never been past the semis in the Italian capital - was in fine fettle in a 6-3 6-3 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin, the two-time grand slam winner using the drop shot to particularly good effect.
Murray beat Rafael Nadal in Madrid, but the Spaniard rebounded with a classy 6-3 6-3 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Nadal is a seven-time victor in Rome and he appeared well at home in the Italian capital, with his trademark backhand causing plenty of damage.
KYRGIOS OUT TO DETHRONE 'KING OF CLAY'
Nadal faces a tricky task in round three, with Nick Kyrgios demonstrating some fine form in his 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 win over Milos Raonic.
The Australian beat Nadal in their only career meeting at Wimbledon in 2014, but he is sure to face an altogether different challenge on clay.
The likes of David Ferrer, Jeremy Chardy and Richard Gasquet also progressed on Wednesday.