British number one Andy Murray advanced to the third round of the Paris Masters with a comfortable 7-5 6-3 victory over French wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu.
The third seed, who received a bye in round one, had to wait until the 11th game for his first break, before taking the opening set in 55 minutes.
Murray sealed the match with his third break of the second set, completing victory in an hour and 32 minutes.
The Scotsman next faces qualifier Jerzy Janowicz of Poland on Thursday.
"I served pretty well but I struggled a little bit on the return," Murray told Sky Sports.
"Murray knows this is an important fortnight with loads of ranking points available right at the end of his standout season. With Federer and Nadal absent from Paris and Djokovic losing his first match, the draw looks wide open and a first title here would send him over the channel to the World Tour Finals as the favourite for that too. Such excitement may explain a little agitation during a match with Mathieu which never really caught fire. The Frenchman stepped in and went for his shots but Murray dealt with him well and, as usual, produced some flashes of brilliance which drew appreciative "oo la la's" from a near-capacity Paris crowd."
"The court has got a lot quicker over the last few days so I was struggling a little with the timing and catching it a little late. The ball was staying a bit lower.
"I have never played my best tennis is this event and I would like to change that."
Murray's last match was
a gruelling defeat to Novak Djokovic in the final of the Shanghai Masters,
and he intially struggled to match the high standards he reached in defeat in China.
Mathieu, a former top-15 player who returned to the game in February after 15 months out with a left knee injury, matched Murray game for game in the early stages as he chanced his arm with a series of aggressive shots from the back of the court.
But a sudden succession of errors from the 30-year-old gave Murray a 6-5 lead which, despite subsequently offering up two break points to the Frenchman, proved decisive.
The second set was a more straightforward affair as Murray established a 4-1 lead with two quick breaks.
That lead always looked too large a gap for Mathieu to bridge and, although he gave the home fans hope as he clawed back to 4-3, a double fault to finally surrender the match summed up an inconsistent performance.
Murray, who has never been beyond the last eight in Paris, beat Janowicz in straight sets in their only previous meeting.
Should Murray overcome the 22-year-old again, Janko Tipsarevic or Juan Monaco are his potential seeded opposition in the quarter-finals.