Novak Djokovic moved into the Australian Open's second round with ominous ease Monday as he goes in search of a historic title hat-trick at the season's opening Grand Slam.
The world number one headlined a bright and windy first day at Melbourne Park, with former women's champion Maria Sharapova also starting impressively and China's Li Na moving safely through.
A year ago, the Serb departed the Australian venue in the early hours after his enthralling 5hr 53min victory over Rafael Nadal, the longest ever Grand Slam final.
Monday's match against Paul-Henri Mathieu lasted less than a third of that time as Djokovic won 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 in 1hr 42min to move one step closer to his third straight title, a feat unprecedented in the professional era.
"Any achievement, especially if it's part of history, would mean a lot to me. I love this sport," Djokovic said afterwards.
"This sport is my life since I was four years old. I try to generate this great desire to play this sport from that love. You know, it's not about winning or losing; it's about being passionate about what you do.
"I guess as long as it's like that I'll be happy to play, with lots of commitment, lots of motivation. We'll see how far I can go."
Djokovic's toughest rivals, Scot Andy Murray and Swiss Roger Federer, get their campaigns underway on Tuesday, when strong women's favourite, 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, will also be in action.
Williams was in the stands to watch her sister Venus reach round two with a win against Galina Voskoboeva, but Sharapova, the 2008 champion, was the pick of the women's players after her 6-0, 6-0 crushing of Olga Puchkova.
Sharapova had not played this year after pulling out of the Brisbane International with a collarbone problem, but she showed few signs of rust against her 107th-ranked fellow Russian.
"It's tough to feel completely satisfied," said Sharapova, who was runner-up to Victoria Azarenka last year before completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open.
"You always want to improve on things and work on certain things that you feel will help you in the later rounds certainly towards the end of the second week.
"But, yeah, overall I was happy with the way I started, considering I didn't play any matches coming in."
Li, who played her first Grand Slam final in Melbourne in 2011 and won the French Open later that year, dismissed Kazakhstan's Sesil Karatantcheva 6-1, 6-3 to move into the second round.
Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who is unbeaten this year, and former world number one Jelena Jankovic also won, while Australia's 2011 US Open winner Samantha Stosur broke a run of five straight defeats on home soil.
In the men's draw, fifth seed Tomas Berdych and Japan's 16th seeded Kei Nishikori were also among the winners, and former semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco came through a five-set test against David Goffin of Belgium.
Fourth seed David Ferrer beat Belgium's Olivier Rochus in straight sets and Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who won the Kooyong Classic on Saturday, was playing eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic in the showpiece evening match.