Roger Federer felled big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic 7-6, 6-3 on Monday to reach the fourth round of the ATP event in Indian Wells.
The Swiss world number two, aiming to win the title for the fourth time, snatched the first set on a tiebreak and broke once in the second to clinch victory.
Federer will now play 17th seed Fernando Gonzalez of Chile for a place in the quarter-finals.
"It's always a bit of a success story to get his serve back," Federer told reporters. "It seems like he is serving from the service line.
"Ivo has really improved a lot over the past few years so it's always nice to get through a tough match like this."
Fourth seed Andy Murray and number 10 Fernando Verdasco strolled into the last 16 but there was a shock defeat for eighth seed Gilles Simon of France.
Though Federer led their head-to-head battles 6-1, the 6ft 10in Karlovic had won their most recent encounter, in Cincinnati last year.
The 28th seed kept Federer off balance in the first set with a barrage of booming serves to take it to a tiebreak.
Karlovic forged a 3-1 lead but Federer won six of the next seven points to take the set.
The second looked to be heading the same way until Federer finally broke the Karlovic serve in the sixth game, before going on to seal the win.
Gonzalez will be his next opponent after the Chilean ousted American 13th seed James Blake 7-5, 6-1.
Fourth seed Murray cruised into the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu.
The fourth-seeded Briton stepped up a gear from his first match, the Scot hitting six aces to set up a clash with either Spain's Tommy Robredo or Marin Cilic of Croatia.
"I hit the ball a lot better," said the Scot. "I served big when I needed to and moved very well again. Bar a couple of games where I lost my concentration a little bit it was a very solid match."
Eighth seed Simon was upended 6-3, 7-6 by another Croatian, Ivan Ljubicic, but 10th seed Verdasco had no trouble in seeing off 23rd seed Richard Gasquet of France 6-3, 6-2.