In his previous three matches against Djokovic, Edmund has failed to even win a set - though he did at least put up a more respectable showing in a 6-4, 7-5 defeat at Indian Wells past year. "I feel much better about everything that is happening on the court and around tennis, in general, with my body than maybe two months ago".
Milos Raonic defeated Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-2 to set up a second-round encounter with third seed Grigor Dimitrov, while Richard Gasquet beat Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2 to advance to play qualifier Dusan Lajovic, who got past Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2.
Edmund appeared to be running out of steam in the final set after falling to 0-40 at 2-2, but his first serve hauled him out of trouble as he reeled off five straight points.
Edmund moves on to face eighth-seeded David Goffin in the third round. I try to always remind myself and be grateful for that. The unseeded Briton then broke Djokovic's serve to go up 5-3 and easily closed out the match on his serve. I do it because I like it.More news: A Nobel Prize for Donald Trump? Some say he deserves it
So, you know, that's where I draw my strength.
Nadal has enjoyed his own resurgence over the past 12 months, having reclaimed the world number one spot and clinched two more major titles.
"I'm happy to start with a victory", said Nadal, whose last loss on the dirt came against Dominic Thiem in Rome previous year.
'At the same time, you know, nobody is forcing me to play this sport.
"I haven't played a whole bunch of matches".More news: Top 10 All New Electric Cars to Go on Sale
Edmund, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January, has been in impressive form this season and saw off the two-time victor of the competition on a scoreline of 6-3 2-6 6-3.
Former world number one and five-time major victor Sharapova fired 30 winners and nine aces in her victory which gave her a last-eight clash with Kiki Bertens.
In the women's event, Simona Halep beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-1, 6-4 to stay on track for a third straight title in Madrid, while Caroline Wozniacki's bid to return to the top of the rankings ended with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to 20th-ranked Kiki Bertens.
Halep will now play Pliskova's twin sister Karolina for a place in the last four.More news: Eagles to sign RB Matt Jones