Monaco: Roger Federer boasted he could finish a point at will as he reminded the tennis world of his destructive power with a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Monte Carlo Masters second round.
All the talk in the buildup to the first men`s claycourt tournament of the year had been about the in-form Novak Djokovic and his recent domination of world number one Rafael Nadal.
But record 16-times grand slam champion Federer took the chance to lay down a marker and show he is not yet a spent force by immediately finding his rhythm against German Kohlschreiber with forehand and backhand.
"It`s clearly a good start for me to the claycourt season," the 29-year-old told reporters.
"I was able to do all the things I wanted to. I was consistent. I could finish a point almost when I wanted to."
The day had started grey and cold but just as the Swiss stepped on court the sun burst through the clouds, the stands filled up and the crowd gave him a superb reception.
Second seed Federer, who has never won the title here, has long battled an inferiority complex on clay despite his 2009 French Open title but there was no sign of nerves against the hapless German apart from a mini wobble late in the first set. Top seed Nadal starts his quest for a record seventh straight title in the wealthy principality on Wednesday when he takes on Finland`s Jarkko Nieminen in the second round as stuttering third seed Andy Murray faces Radek Stepanek.
World number two Djokovic, who beat Nadal in the final in his last two events, is skipping Monte Carlo with a knee injury.
"Nadal will be hard to beat," added Federer, who could meet the Spaniard in Sunday`s final at one of the circuit`s most glitzy events.
"He is clearly the overwhelming favourite even though I haven`t seen him play yet. But I still wouldn`t be happy losing to him in the final."
As soon as Federer had stormed to victory, the clouds rolled in again but they failed to dampen fifth seed Tomas Berdych`s spirits as he swatted aside Belgium`s Olivier Rochus 6-2, 6-3 in his second round encounter.
The Czech will face Ivan Ljubicic in the third round after the Croatian ruined the party on centre court by beating flamboyant French crowd favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6, 6-4.
Among first round matches, Frenchman Gilles Simon powered to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Brazil`s Thomaz Bellucci and Feliciano Lopez beat Serb Janko Tipsarevic 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 to set up a second-round match with fourth seed David Ferrer on Wednesday.
The winner of the all-Spanish tie will play Milos Raonic in round three after he overcame Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 7-5.