Melbourne - David Ferrer powered through to a straight sets win in his opening match at the Australian Open on Monday as he strives to convince the doubters he can justify his top three ranking.
The never-say-die Spaniard joined fellow top-tenners Stanislas Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet in the second round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Colombia's Alejandro Gonzalez in just over two hours.
It set up Ferrer with a clash against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino as he attempts to put behind his hollow exit to Novak Djokovic in last year's semi-final in Melbourne.
Djokovic, who went on to win his third straight Australian title, swept Ferrer aside in just 89 minutes and the super-fit Spaniard is angling to improve enough to be a title contender.
"Every week is different. The last match I played here was very bad, but it's just one match," Ferrer said. "Now I am in another tournament, other conditions.
"I played well today. I play good some moments in the match and I have to be positive."
Ferrer is ranked behind Rafael Nadal and Djokovic but ahead of Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.
Given the forecast sweltering conditions over the next four days at the tournament Ferrer said it was important to save on his energy levels for the matches ahead.
"It's important win the matches in three sets for me because my game is about fitness and I need power for my next match," he said.
"The most important thing is the win. Maybe today I didn't play my best tennis, but I won.
"I don't care whether I am number three in the world or number two or number five. I know I have to improve my game, and I will try do my best to improve my game."
Berdych was formidable on serve as he disposed of Kazakhstan's Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in his first match.
The Czech seventh seed only had two break points in the 1hr 50min encounter while breaking Nedovyesov's serve four times.
"I like to play here. I like the crowd, the courts, the atmosphere. So I hope that I'm going to be able to make another successful run here in Melbourne," Berdych said.
"I felt good on my serve. I was facing just two break points down, which I managed to save. Didn't drop my serve at all through all the match."
Swiss eighth seed Wawrinka progressed on an injury retirement by his opening round Kazakh opponent Andrey Golubev.
Golubev retired with a calf injury in the second set of their match on Hisense Arena with Wawrinka leading 6-4, 4-1 at the time.
"I was feeling good. I think it's one of the best starts in a Grand Slam how I felt on the court," Wawrinka said.
"I was moving well, playing strong, playing okay. For sure I made some mistakes, but for the first (match) it's never easy."
French ninth seed Gasquet, who withdrew from the Kooyong Classic final last weekend with rib trouble, got past countryman David Guez 7-5, 6-4, 6-1.
German 12th seed Tommy Haas also pulled out of his match while trailing Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 5-2 with right shoulder trouble.