Andy Murray became the first man through to the quarter-finals at the Dubai Duty Free Championships with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Swiss qualifier Marco Chiudinelli.
The world No 4 has endured a post-Australian Open slump in the last two seasons and struggled in his first match since his Melbourne semi-final defeat by Novak Djokovic, needing three sets to get past unheralded German Michael Berrer.
But Murray looked much sharper yesterday against the 30-year-old world No 185, and eased through in 82 minutes.
Murray is likely to face a much tougher test in the shape of fifth seed Tomas Berdych, who brushed aside qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-1 6-2.
World No 1 Djokovic will face Serbian compatriot Janko Tipsarevic in the quarter-finals and will need to up his game if he is to make it four Dubai titles in a row after struggling past Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 in the second round.
Seventh seed Tipsarevic made a slow start against Italian Flavio Cipolla before hitting back to win 6-7 (2/7) 6-1 6-1.
There was one upset as sixth seed Mardy Fish’s poor start to the year continued with a 6-2 7-6 (7/0) defeat by Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny.