PARIS (AFP) - Andy Murray's drive to Davis Cup glory got under way in earnest at the ATP Paris Masters on Wednesday with a dominating 6-1, 6-2 second round win over Croatian youngster Borna Coric.
The Scot has made it clear that, with the end of the season in sight, his priority is to give Britain its first Davis Cup triumph since 1936 with a victory over Belgium on clay in Ghent later in the month.
But before then he has to negotiate the last two events of the ATP season, both on hardcourts, at Paris and the World Tour Finals in London.
It's not an easy task with the punishing change of surfaces to handle, and it nearly floored Roger Federer at the same time last year before he and Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka finally saw off the French challenge in the final in Lille.
And the last thing Murray needs is a series of punishing three-setters to drain his batteries and niggle his ailing back.
Against teenager Coric, who had beaten the Scot for the loss of just four games the last time the pair met early this year in Dubai, that never looked likely to happen.
Murray, who has never got past the quarter-finals in the Paris Masters in eight previous appearances, took command from the start, winning the first three games.
Coric, the youngest player in the world top 50 - he turns 19 on Nov 14 - looked at a loss over what to do as Murray pulled him all over the court and the first set was surrendered in double-quick time.
The Croat opted to go on the offensive in the second set and he held firm until 2-2.
But Murray then stepped up the pace once again and he grabbed the break he needed in the following game.
He then raced away to reach the last 16 in just 59 minutes.
Next up for Murray, by a quirk of fate, is David Goffin, the slightly built Belgian number one, who will be the main obstacle standing in his way in Ghent.
There were contrasting fortunes for Murray's newly confirmed compatriot Aljaz Bedene who lost 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) to giant American John Isner.
In earlier second round action Kei Nishikori produced a storming final set to defeat home hope Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (6/8), 6-1.
The 25-year-old Japanese world number seven was a semi-finalist in Paris last year, losing to eventual winner Novak Djokovic, and he has been in solid form this year with three title wins.
But he missed the Swiss Indoors tournament in Basel last week with a sore shoulder and he had his hands full in dealing with the big-serving Chardy.
Nishikori edged the opening tie-break and it looked like he could do the same in the second, only for Chardy to save two match points en route to levelling the score.
Asia's top player and US Open runner-up last year rebounded well in the third set, however, reeling off six straight games from 0-1 to claim victory in two hours and 26 minutes.
Nishikori goes on to face another Frenchman, 10th seed Richard Gasquet, who eased past Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-2, 7-5.
"I think it's been a pretty good year," said Nishikori. "I really started well this year and had a good result in Australia (...) and winning three titles this year.
"So I think it can be one of the best years so far and playing a lot more matches than these couple years.
"Last year I had a US Open final and there were other big results too, but I think this year is more patient and I had a good, decent year.
In other second round match-ups, Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov upset former US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/2), and 16th-ranked Goffin was too good for Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, winning 6-2, 6-2.
Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were in action later Wednesday against Andreas Seppi and Lukas Rosol.