Madrid: Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 28 consecutive matches at the Madrid Masters on Wednesday, putting the Serb within striking distance of the record for the all-time best season start in tennis.
The second seed now has a chance to draw level with Ivan Lendl, who went 29 matches without defeat at the start of the 1986 season, but Djokovic says he is only interested in replacing Rafael Nadal atop the ATP ranking.
"It's a great honour and flattering to be part of the elite, but it's not my priority," said Djokovic, a 6-3, 6-4 winner against South Africa's Kevin Anderson.
"I'm only taking it one match at a time and just hoping I can keep winning."
Djokovic worked for one hour and 40 minutes for his victory over Anderson, winner of his home title at Johannesburg in February and a clay quarter-finalist last week in Estoril.
"Where there is altitude it's tough to control the ball, there are more mistakes," said Djokovic, who has won five titles this season.
"It's crucial to stay really focused for each point. You don't get that much time on this court and serving well is an advantage."
Djokovic is quietly confident with his game, based upon his current superlative form.
"It's a fact that I'm playing the best tennis of my life. I'm definitely happy about it," he said.
"I hope I can reach my goal (world number one). But I need to stay dedicated and professional and keep working as hard as I am now."
Former Grand Slam finalists Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych also came through their opening matches, as the world's top five players took to the clay at the Caja Magica.
Two-time Roland Garros runner-up Soderling, seeded fifth, beat Colombia's Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-3, while seventh-seeded Wimbledon finalist Berdych overcame Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-4, 6-0.
Michael Llodra of France reached the third round with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Italy's Flavio Cipolla 6-4, 6-2, with German Florian Mayer retiring hurt to give Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci a 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 3-0 win.
Defending champion Nadal and third seed Roger Federer were due to play their matches later.
In the women's event, China's Li Na defeated Czech Iveta Benesova 6-1, 6-4 to set up a match with Italian Roberta Vinci, who beat Russian Alisa Kleybanova 6-2, 6-2.
Australian Open finalist Li has revitalised her tennis this week on the clay in Spain, winning her third match from eight played since losing the Melbourne final to Kim Clijsters in late January.
Li has reached a career-high world ranking of sixth and needs one more victory to duplicate her best Madrid performance of last year, when she reached the quarter-finals.
Li secured her win in 58 minutes with five aces and three breaks of serve.
In the third round, Czech 16th seed Petra Kvitova upset second-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-4 to earn the first of the quarter-final spots.
Kvitova has made a sizzling start to the year, picking up titles at Brisbane and the Paris Indoors, and will now face the winner of the match between Russian eighth seed Maria Sharapova and Slovak Domenika Cibulkova.