Federer dropped just one point on his own serve in the match
Roger Federer was in magnificent form as he cruised to a comfortable 6-1 6-1 win over Nicolas Mahut in the third round of the Pacific Life Open.
The world number one has competed in only two tournaments this season after a bout of glandular fever.
But Federer served superbly, hitting nine aces and winning 23 of 24 points on his first serve.
Other winners on Tuesday were David Nalbandian, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic.
Fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko was the biggest casualty, going down 6-3 6-2 to American Mardy Fish.
I felt like I was pretty close to being down and out
Nalbandian almost suffered a similar upset but recovered from two points from defeat to overcome Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7-1) 0-6 7-6.
The Argentine was serving at 3-5, 0-30 in the third when he began his comeback and won on his fourth match point.
Federer, who next plays Ivan Ljubicic, suffered a surprise loss in the second round last year to Argentina's Guillermo Canas, having won at Indian Wells for three years in a row from 2004.
"I enjoy matches like this," said Federer after his win over Frenchman Mahut.
"Having the sensation like I had towards the end of the second set when you feel everything's going your way, you've got his game perfectly figured out and everything you're trying to do sort of works as well, it's just a good feeling.
"I am overall excited being back, happy to be playing well. I feel like I did at the Australian Open after one of my first couple of matches but this time I'm more sure I'm over the sickness.
"I couldn't really practise the way I wanted to before the Australian Open. This time it's very different and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the week."
Murray battled past Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (9-7) 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.
In the women's tournament, Sharapova came close to losing her perfect record in 2008 before beating Alona Bondarenko.
The Australian Open champion needed three hours to see off the Ukrainian 6-2 5-7 6-4 for her 17th consecutive win.
"I felt like I was pretty close to being down and out because I wasn't able to produce good points for a long period," said Sharapova.
"I was just tough in the end and it gets me through a lot of matches."
Top seed Ivanovic fought her way past Francesca Schiavone 2-6 7-5 6-2, and Lindsay Davenport beat Marion Bartoli 6-2 7-5.
Defending champion Daniela Hantuchova beat Indian star Sania Mirza 6-1 7-6 (7-4) to reach the quarter-finals.
"I feel like I own this place. I'm here and anything can happen," said twice-winner Hantuchova.
"I'm confident but obviously I'll have to play my best to win."