Novak Djokovic hammered Spain’s Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-2 at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday, winning the 699th match of his career.
The world number one now stands 13-0 this season as he bids for a third 2016 title after trophies in Doha and Melbourne. He last played in the final at Melbourne Park, beating Andy Murray.
The top seed will next face Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri, who advanced over qualifier Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-1.
“I may have looked calm from the outside, but there is a lot of intensity inside,” Djokovic said after advancing in 65 minutes. “There are emotions, moments of confidence and doubts.
“It’s important to remain positive. I came here a few days ago and trained hard to get ready. It’s been three weeks since I’ve played a match.
“I’m glad to be back with a solid win.”
The 123rd-ranked Jaziri knows his chances against the best in the world will be extremely limited - but he’s not totally without hope.
“It should be a good match. I will try to enjoy it on court and I will play all my chances,” said the 32-year-old North African.
“Novak’s playing his best tennis now, and he’s beating everyone. But I will be on court like all the matches. In tennis you never know. That’s part of this beautiful game. Who knows? Maybe I’ll wake up on a good day.”
Djokovic has played finals at his last 17 events, winning 13.
Jaziri has plenty of previous time on court with Djokovic after practise sessions between the pair.
“In Doha (last January) I practised with him and in Australia. He’s playing his best level, he’s winning maybe most all tournaments,” Jaziri said.
“I have nothing to lose, you know. But first let’s see him win his match and then we see.”
Djokovic is playing in Dubai for a tenth year in succession, now 35-5 in the emirate. He owns Dubai titles from 2009-2011 and 2013; he lost the final to Roger Federer last year.
South Korea’s rising player Chung Hyeon made a winning Dubai debut, beating Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4 a day after the Italian turned 32. Canadian Vasek Pospisil defeated Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
Marseille winner Nick Kyrgios was due in Dubai later after winning the first title of his career in France over Marin Cilic.
The 20-year-old Australian starts his campaign on Tuesday night, facing Slovak Martin Klizan, winner of the Rotterdam event eight days ago.