Andy Murray became the first man through to the quarter-finals at the Dubai Duty Free Championships following a 6-3 6-4 victory over Swiss qualifier Marco Chiudinelli.
The world number four has endured a post-Australian Open slump in the last two seasons and struggled on Tuesday 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 against Chiudinelli, albeit against modest opposition in the shape of the 30-year-old world number 185, and eased through in one hour and 22 minutes.
Coach Ivan Lendl said following the Berrer match that he believed Murray had left Australia in a positive frame of mind and he certainly made a fast start. The 24-year-old created a break point in Chiudinelli's first service game and then capitalised on his next opportunity when a backhand proved too good for his opponent.
The Swiss player beat Nikolay Davydenko in the first round but he was having no joy at all on the Murray serve and the third seed served out the set with an ace.
Chiudinelli held Murray at bay in the second set until the ninth game, when some good play from the Scot forced three break points and he took the second to leave himself serving for the match.
Murray was encouraged by his improved form, telling a press conference: "I definitely played better. I still wasn't moving as good as I would have liked, but I served well today."
It is fifth seed Tomas Berdych who Murray will play next and the Czech will be looking for a fourth consecutive win over the world number four.
Murray said: "I've always enjoyed playing guys that are big hitters. That's his game. I'll have to try and find a way of neutralising that by getting the first hit in the rallies, using a lot of variety in my game.
"He can make mistakes, but you need to force him into doing that. He's not just going to give you that. If you leave the ball in the middle of the court, he hits the ball very, very well."