For Nadal, it was the ideal response after his surprise defeat to Austria's world No 8 Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Open quarter-finals that also saw the Spaniard lose his No 1 ranking.
Nadal would go on to win the set 6-1 and he was even more ruthless in the second set as he won it 6-0 to clinch the match in just 61 minutes.
It is the 13th time in his career Nadal has dropped only one game in a match, but he is still looking for his first "double bagel".
"It was important, after a loss in Madrid, to come back strong", the 31-year-old, who received a bye in the opening round, said.
"We're finally connecting and I think that's the most handsome thing", Fognini said of the crowd, which whistled him off the court following an erratic performance a few years ago.
Home favourite Fabio Fognini produced the performance of the day, the Italian world No 21 defeating sixth seed Thiem 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to send the fans inside Court Centrale into raptures.
Nadal, a seven-time Rome champion, and four-time champion Novak Djokovic also advanced. "It's a loss which is not too painful, which is just motivating me for the next weeks", the Austrian said.
The Serb will have opportunity to reach his first quarter-final of the season on Thursday, when he faces Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
"It was a good match, actually, from both of us, I would say", said Thiem.
Japan's Kei Nishikori denied Grigor Dimitrov a 27th birthday win to progress to the third round, rallying back from a set down to beat the world number four 6-7 (4) 7-5 6-4.
With the score at 6-3, 3-6, 5-5 and serving at 30-30, Pliskova had an overhead smash incorrectly called out, and after the umpire, Marta Mrozinska, could not find the ball mark the original call stood.
Instead of shaking hands with the umpire after the match, Pliskova first put her hand out before beating up the chair. She could not hide her fury as she went on to lose the match 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Earlier, top women's seed Simona Halep needed just under an hour to advance 6-1, 6-0 past Naomi Osaka to avenge her defeat to the Japanese player in Indian Wells. "That was the way that I want to play".
"I like to slide on the clay and today was easy for me".
"I don't know how many mistakes I made, but not many".
Former No. 1 Angelique Kerber rallied past Irina-Camelia Begu 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, and 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina eliminated American qualifier Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-3.