Andy Murray saw off a 29-year-old local who had only won one match on the main tour and China's Li Na toiled through under cloudier skies in the French Open first round on Tuesday.
British fourth seed Murray progressed 6-4 6-1 6-3 but was broken twice by Eric Prodon, who had only made three previous appearances in a grand slam, all at Roland Garros.
Women's sixth seed Li, who like Murray was runner-up in January's Australian Open, began with an uninspiring 6-3 6-7 6-3 win over Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova with the early crowds also somewhat lacklustre after a busy and sunny Monday.
In contrast, Maria Sharapova, wearing striking yellow, stormed past Mirjana Lucic 6-3 6-0 to continue her good form.
Queues at the entrances to the famous venue in western Paris were lengthening as the sun warmed up and anticipation rose for champion Rafa Nadal's first match against John Isner.
The Spaniard is seeking a sixth title in seven years but Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who easily won his first match, is threatening to break his dominance after a stunning unbeaten start to the campaign.
American Isner is better known for his 11-hour epic match against Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon last year but Nadal should wrap up victory in a fraction of the time with the galleries expecting a signal of intent.
Murray did not need to produce his best against the slightly rotund Prodon, who broke in the first set with a drop shot after a series of half-hearted attempts.
The Scot found more rhythm in the second but was broken again in the third set as Prodon's remarkably laidback but occasionally successful volleys and smashes amused the fans.
There was more laughs when it organisers announced that American Ryan Harrison, who threw his racket into a tree when losing in qualifying last week, had won a lucky loser berth and he will play last year's runner-up Robin Soderling later.
The feelings on Court Philippe Chatrier were completely different as France's Virginie Razzano, whose coach and fiance died eight days ago after a brain tumour, lost her match to Jarmila Gajdosova 6-3 6-1 to warm and heartfelt applause.
"I had a lot of emotion and pain," she said tearfully.
Number two seed Kim Clijsters returns from injury later against Anastasiya Yakimova.