Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his 27th birthday by saving all six breakpoints in a 6-2, 6-4 win Tuesday against Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.
Andy Murray started his clay-court season in style by beating Viktor Troicki 6-0, 6-3.
Tsonga, who was serenaded with a brief rendition of 'Happy Birthday' from the crowd, served five aces and broke his opponent three times.
"I had some worrying moments because I was almost broken several times," said Tsonga, who regularly used the drop shot to get out of trouble. "But I played well on the important points."
The Frenchman will play 13th-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain, who rallied from a set down for the second straight match in winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 against Ivan Dodig of Croatia.
Murray will face either Jurgen Melzer of Austria or Julien Benneteau of France.
"Normally when I come here I usually find I need a few matches to get adjusted," said Murray, who lost to seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in last year's semifinals. "But I played very well, it was a very good first match."
Murray had spent a few days practicing on clay in Florida before heading to the Mediterranean.
"The sooner I can get on this surface for me the better," Murray said. "It was good that I stayed in the States and actually got sort of four or five days on the clay there before coming (here). I was sliding pretty well on the court. Normally that's the thing that takes time to get used to.
Murray didn't face a single break point in improving to 6-0 against Troicki.
Murray is being helped with his clay game by coach Ivan Lendl, who won three French Opens in eight Grand Slam titles plus two Monte Carlo Masters among his 94 career victories.
"He only arrived this morning so he's getting no credit for today," Murray joked. "But he'll help me (over) the next five, six weeks."
Italian veteran Andreas Seppi's reward for a 6-3, 6-1 win against Victor Hanescu is to play top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the second round on Wednesday, when Nadal plays Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen.
Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan reached the second round after beating 14th-seeded Florian Mayer of Germany 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Also in the first round, Fabio Fognini beat Michael Llodra 7-5, 6-3, Thomaz Bellucci downed Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 and Filippo Volandri defeated Alessandro Giannessi 7-5, 6-3.
Kei Nishikori advanced with a 6-2, 7-5 win against Albert Ramos, who lost in the Grand Hassan II final last Sunday to Spanish countryman Pablo Andujar.
Andujar had to rally from a set down to get past Federico Delbonis 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Juan Monaco of Argentina limped out of his match against Dutchman Robin Haase with the score at 7-5, 0-6, 2-3 after turning his right ankle.
He was on the clay for several minutes, with Haase making a pillow for him with a towel. Monaco finished the fifth game but then had to quit.