American Andy Roddick produced his customary fast start to the year on Wednesday, crushing Ivan Ljubicic on the opening day of the Kooyong Classic in a warm-up event for next week's Australian Open.
The world number six, who has won the title at Kooyong in each of the past two years, was totally dominant as he raced to a 6-3 6-0 victory over the Croatian.
Former world number one Marat Safin, Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus and Chilean Fernando Gonzalez also won on day one of the eight-man exhibition event.
But it was the display of Roddick, in his first match since helping the United States to Davis Cup victory a month ago, that caught the eye.
"I was pretty happy with how I hit the ball today," Roddick said. "I was consistent, I returned pretty well, and I thgought I managed the match pretty well. I didn't make any stupid errors, and that's key."
Roddick beat world number one Roger Federer to win the title last year at Kooyong, the Melbourne suburb that staged the Australian Open until 1988.
"I think traditionally a lot of the players who have played here have done well in the Aussie Open," said Roddick.
"I have played pretty consistently throughout the year, so there's nothing wrong with playing three matches against guys in the top 20 before a big event. It's ideal."
Roddick will now play Safin for a place in the final after the Russian impressed in a 6-1 6-4 win over Briton Andy Murray, who won the title in Doha last weekend.
Safin, who won the Australian Open in 2005 but who has slipped down the rankings to 57th, looked in fine fettle after putting in some extra work in the off-season.
"It is such a long time since I played such good tennis," Safin said. "I was pretty surprised how well I played. Right from the beginning, so pretty impressive."
Baghdatis, who has targeted a return to the top 10 this year, edged out world number four Nikolay Davydenko 6-4 4-6 6-1.
The Cypriot, runner-up to Federer at the Australian Open in 2006, will now play Chilean Gonzalez, who was awarded a walkover when Argentine David Nalbandian pulled out of the event after suffering back spasms during practice.
Gonzalez did get a workout at least, beating stand-in Brydan Klein, the 2007 Australian Open boys' champion, 7-6 6-4.