Andy Murray needed a tough effort to finally get past upset-minded US player Robert Kendrick 7-5, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4 to thrill a Centre court crowd on Wednesday at Wimbledon.
Third seed Murray fired 20 aces, with Kendrick producing 16 of his own.
"It was a tough match," said Murray, who has been the target of national sporting pressure in the run-up to Wimbledon. "I expected to be difficult. He played great for two or three sets and made it difficult for me. I didn't return as well as I liked, but I'm happy with how I served. There were a lot of big points and important moments."
The Scot who is making his fourth Wimbledon appearance and has never lost in the first round. "I knew I had to play well, and I did in the end," he said.
Argentine fifth seed Juan Del Potro shrugged off Frenchman Arnaud Clement in a power display 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, while US player Andy Roddick had a stiffer battle to advance.
Two-time finalist Roddick, beaten in 2004 and 2005 by Roger Federer for the title, dropped a set but regrouped to advance in his opening match over aggressive Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-3.
"He makes you uncomfortable because he plays so big," sixth seed Roddick said. "I felt like I was playing better than he was for the majority of the match. You know, sometimes you just got to stick those matches out."
Del Potro, beaten in the semi-finals during Roger Federer's march to the French Open title, had extremely limited preparation on grass but didn't seem to mind.
"I was sick five days at home, and then I started to prepare this tournament in Argentina," he said. "I practiced for a week, like eight days or nine days."
Del Potro will next face 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, who crushed Robby Ginepri 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.
Number 10 Fernando Gonzalez joined in with a victory over Teimuraz Gabashvili 7-5, 7-5, 6-3, leading 12th seed Nikolay Davydenko and Spain's number 16 into the second round.
US player Jesse Levine ended retiring Marat Safin's Wimbledon career 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
Women's top seed Dinara Safina performed as expected as she took out Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino 7-5, 6-3, while five-time champion Venus Williams began her bid for a third consecutive title as she saw off Swiss threat Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-2.
"It was pretty straightforward. I really enjoyed being out there," said Williams. "It's a special moment when you walk back as defending champion on that court, throw those balls up for that first point. It's a really great feeling."
Serbian sixth seed Jelena Jankovic had an easy afternoon under brilliantly sunny skies, defeating German Julia Goerges 6-4, 7-6 (7-0) while number seven Vera Zvonareva advanced at the expense of Briton Georgie Stoop 7-6 (7-0), 4-6, 6-4.
Danish ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki followed up her Eastbourne weekend title as she beat Japan's returning veteran Kimiko Date Krumm 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
Australian Jelena Dokic was treated for illness after winning her first set against Germany's Tatjana Malek but was unable to hold onto her early lead in a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 defeat for the one-time semi-finalist of almost decade ago.
Dokic said she feared she has a virus. The match was her only effort on grass after suffering a back injury that forced a tearful exit at the French Open.