Roger Federer showed shreds of evidence of Stefan Edberg's influence as he got his 2014 season underway, advancing to the Brisbane International quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jarkko Nieminen.
Federer worked briefly with Edberg in the offseason and will again use the six-time major winner as a coach in Melbourne as he tries to end his Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open this month.
"I've been serving OK, my forehand is going well, my movement is OK, I'm seeing the ball OK,'' said Federer, who won the last of his 17 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon in 2012.
"I expect to play a bit better in the next match, even though today was already very good for a first match in so many weeks.''
Awaiting Federer in the quarterfinals is Australia's Marinko Matosevic, who beat American Sam Querrey 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4.
Second-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan eased to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Matthew Ebden of Australia to set up a quarter-final against Marin Cilic of Croatia.
Cilic, in his second tournament following a four-month ban for testing positive for a banned stimulant in May, had a 7-5, 7-5 win over fifth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, a Brisbane finalist last year.
Cilic, who reached a career-high No. 9 in 2010 but finished last season at No. 37, said playing again 'feels like a new beginning for me.'
"I'm thinking about everything around myself in a different perspective,'' he said.
"I'm excited to be in the season and to play, to be back on the tour after all that misery last year.''
Azarenka breezes through
After a day of injury withdrawals in the women's draw, second-seeded Victoria Azarenka finished off the night session with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Casey Dellacqua to ensure the top five seeds reached the quarter-finals.
Azarenka's match was the only women's second-rounder to go the distance on Wednesday.
She'll next play Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland, who advanced when Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki pulled out before their match with a stomach illness.
Maria Sharapova got a walkover into the quarterfinals when Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty withdrew and fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber progressed when Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia retired in the second set with a left leg injury.
Kerber was leading 6-2, 4-3 against last year's runner-up.