Gael Monfils' dreams of a first Paris Masters crown were dashed by Feliciano Lopez on Wednesday, after Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer had all cruised into the third round.
Home favourite Monfils, the eighth seed, was a losing finalist at the last two tournaments but got no further than the second round at Bercy Arena this year after he fell 6-3, 6-4 to Spanish left-hander Lopez.
Monfils' defeat also ended his slim hopes of reaching the ATP Tour Finals in London later this month, as he needed to win the tournament to stand any chance of qualifying.
"I wouldn't say it was a bad season, but it wasn't superb either," reflected Monfils. "The main disappointment is my incapacity to play the whole year round (due to injuries).
"I don't want to seem over-ambitious, but I think I should be in the top 10."
Top seed Djokovic's participation in the event he won in 2009 had been cast into doubt by the recurrence of a shoulder injury, but he had too much for Croatian Ivan Dodig in a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
The world number one succumbed to only his fourth defeat of the year against Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals of last week's Swiss Indoors and he showed signs of rustiness in the first set here, double-faulting twice and producing 10 unforced errors.
A sublime behind-the-back forehand early in the second set proved he was finding his rhythm, however, and he closed out for victory to set up an encounter with 15th-seeded compatriot Viktor Troicki.
"It's obvious that I'm still not on top of my game, but I'm taking things quite slowly, knowing that the form will improve each day that I play," said Djokovic.
"I've been working quite hard in the last few weeks after my injury and I think things are going in the right direction."
Second seed Murray had to withdraw from the Swiss Indoors with a buttock muscle strain but he showed no ill-effects in a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of France's Jeremy Chardy.
The world number three, who won three consecutive tournaments in Asia last month and is on a 17-match unbeaten streak, now finds his route to the quarter-finals blocked by number 13 seed Andy Roddick.
Murray has a 7-3 career record against the American, and prevailed in straight sets when they met on grass in the semi-finals at Queen's Club in June this year.
"It was good, but I can definitely play better and it'll be a tough match tomorrow (Thursday)," said Murray.
"(Roddick) has a big serve and is pretty consistent from the back of the court, so you have to be patient against him and dictate the games when you get a chance."
Third seed Roger Federer enjoyed a similarly straightforward afternoon, defeating Adrian Mannarino of France 6-2, 6-3.
The great Swiss has never been beyond the last four at this event and he will have to contend with stylish home favourite Richard Gasquet, the 16th seed, in the third round.
"I always enjoy playing against any French guy, because they're good shot-makers," said Federer, who lost to Gasquet at the Rome Masters in May but beat him at Bercy last year.
American number one Mardy Fish closed to within one win of a berth at the ATP Tour Finals by thrashing Germany's Florian Mayer 6-1, 6-2, but ninth seed Nicolas Almagro's hopes of qualifying for the year-end event were dashed by a straight-sets loss to Andreas Seppi.
Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer set up a third-round clash with Ukrainian 14th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov by defeating Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-4.
Argentina's Juan Monaco completed a miserable day for the home fans by beating French 10th seed Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-0.