Former world number one Marat Safin began his bid to end a title drought dating back almost two years with a confident 6-3, 6-4 win over American John Isner at the Los Angeles Classic on Tuesday.
The Russian, ranked 44th after his semi-final run at Wimbledon, broke his opponent once in each set to take his place in the last 16 where he will face another American, Wayne Odesnik, a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victor over compatriot Bobby Reynolds.
"After two weeks when I lost in the second and first rounds, and against an opponent like Isner, who is not easy to play, I was pretty solid," Safin told reporters.
The 6ft-9in Isner fell into trouble early and saved two break points in the second game, but Safin secured the break two games later thanks to a successful Hawk-Eye appeal.
Safin, who was ranked 75th before Wimbledon, cruised through the rest of the set and then broke in the opening game of the second.
Isner had one chance, a break point at 5-4 down, but Safin closed the door with a stunning backhand pass before clinching victory when the American lashed a forehand return long.
Safin said his immediate aim was to earn as many points as possible this week and then in Washington next week in a bid to be among the 32 seeds at the US Open later this month.
"I have a chance (to be seeded) and that's my goal. It's a huge difference if you are seeded at the US Open or not, because you can play Rafael Nadal in the first round."
"I think I am playing pretty well. For this first match, it was a pretty good performance. I just need to stay aggressive and move on from here."
Earlier, veteran American Vince Spadea won a topsy-turvy match with Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a second round clash against sixth seed Mardy Fish.
Serbian lucky-loser Dusan Vemic will play top seed Andy Roddick in round two after he fought back to beat American Sam Warburg 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 and there were also wins for Italian Andrea Stoppini and another American, qualifier Amer Delic.
Seventh seed Carlos Moya and number eight Tommy Haas are in first-round action later on Tuesday. Spaniard Moya faces Belgian Xavier Malisse, while German Haas plays American Donald Young.