Serbia's Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round of the Rome Masters here on Wednesday following a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Belgian Steve Darcis.
The world number 49 put up a fight in the first set but Djokovic simply blew him away in the second.
The world number three has had a sensational start to the season, winning the first Grand Slam of the year and then also claiming the Indian Wells Masters title.
He currently leads the ATP champions race and is closing in on the world's top two - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal - above him in the rankings.
After this romp in the sun, Djokovic admitted that his aim is to finish the year at the top of the pile.
"Winning the Australian Open changed my life and I want to be number one this year," he said.
The Serb is not known for his clay court expertise but he did win the Estoril Open on the surface last year.
He said the courts here in the Italian capital were also faster than normal clay surfaces, which was more to his liking, but he said he was still trying to adapt his game.
"It's not true that I'm not changing anything at all. I'm getting used to this surface and adapting to the system of the game and trying to play more patiently," he said.
"The ball bounces a lot higher than on other (clay) surfaces. The courts are really fast and the fact that they are slippery makes them even faster.
"So they're suitable to my type of game."
Djokovic has also not been beaten in the Grand Slams by anyone other than Federer or Nadal since 2006 and on this form could pose a threat to those two at the French Open later this month.
It was a bad day early on for other seeds, though, as both David Ferrer and David Nalbandian crashed out.
Spaniard Ferrer, who reached the final in Barcelona last week before losing 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, had a good start against Czech Radek Stepanek but then saw his game collapse as he went down 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
The fifth seed seemed to run out of steam, with last week's exploits catching up with him.
Argentina's former Wimbledon finalist Nalbandian came unstuck against clay specialist Nicolas Almagro of Spain.
He made 35 unforced errors and gave up his serve four times as he lost 6-4, 7-5.
But Russian fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko and Chilean 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez redressed the balance for the tournament's top players.
Miami Masters winner Davydenko thrashed his Croatian wildcard opponent Mario Ancic 6-2, 6-2.
Olympic doubles champion Gonzalez was equally ruthless as he dismissed Russian Evgeny Korolev 6-3, 6-2.



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