Frenchman Gael Monfils began his season on a positive note with his third straight win over Spain's Fernando Verdasco in the opening match of the Kooyong Classic on Wednesday.
Monfils, whose last competitive outing was in the losing Davis Cup final last month against Serbia in Belgrade, pulled back from the brink after dropping the opening set to win 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
"It was good, it was the first match of the season, I'm pretty happy," said the 12th-ranked Monfils, who said his off-season preparation consisted of "a lot of running and some gym work" as he stayed away from tennis after a long 2010 campaign.
"It was a tough start to the match, but once I found my rhythm, I was moving well. I was the aggressor on the court."
Monfils has never lost to the ninth-ranked Verdasco, beating him in the Paris indoor third round two months ago and at Monte Carlo on clay in 2008.
Verdasco won the eight-man Kooyong special event a year ago over France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was later Wednesday playing his opening match against Austrian Jurgen Melzer. Monfils plays the winner of that match.
Monfils, watched by his Australian coach Roger Rasheed, showed early conditioning as he mounted a comeback in the encounter lasting 2hr 52min.
The athletic Frenchman, who lost the Paris Bercy Masters 1000 final to Robin Soderling last November, came through for his first-round victory on a third match point.
Monfils struck gold with a drop shot for a third match point and took the victory as Verdasco ploughed a return into the net.