Novak Djokovic was not looking too far ahead after a routine straight-sets win over Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round of the Italian Open.
The 11th-seeded Serbian cruised to a 6-1 6-3 victory but was not getting carried away after having failed to reach the quarter-finals in six straight tournaments after a right elbow injury.
"Rome has always been a place where I've felt good, received a lot of support, where I've played well and obtained a lot of great results and today's match encourages me and gives me reason to believe that it can be a good week for me," Djokovic said.
"I would like to go all the way but at the same time, looking at my results, I have to be a little bit more modest with expectations."
In the rankings released on Monday, Djokovic fell to No.18, his lowest standing since 2006 when he was still a rising pro.
Djokovic has never lost before the quarter-finals in 11 appearances in Rome.
"It is a mental game. Knowing that I've reached the biggest heights of this sport and I've been consistent with the best possible results for so many years," Djokovic said.
"The bar has been raised so, so high that when I step on the court I expect to win every match against anybody on any surface."
Kei Nishikori defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 for his first victory since reaching the Monte Carlo Masters final last month.
"It wasn't (an) easy match," Nishikori said.
"It was windy and he used a lot of slice and great serves ...
"Luckily I got (the) first set. After that I was more confident."
Nishikori will face third-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
Belgian ninth seed David Goffin swept aside Leonardo Mayer 6-1 6-2 and 10th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carrena Busta beat Jared Donaldson 6-4 3-6 6-0.
Italian Fabio Fognini trounced Gael Monfils 6-3 6-1 while local wild cards Marco Cecchinato and Matteo Berrettini both claimed popular victories.
Other first-round winners were Kyle Edmund, Benoit Paire, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Albert Ramos, Robin Haase and Aljaz Bedene.