Marseille, France: Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France beat Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 (4), 7-6 (8) on Wednesday to reach the Open 13 quarterfinals.
The second-seeded Tsonga, who had 19 aces, improved to 4-2 in career head-to-heads against the Russian who reached a career-high ranking of third.
Davydenko saved one match point with a forehand pass down the line, but Tsonga clinched victory with the next when Davydenko's forehand hit the net.
"It's never easy against him, he's a great player who's won a lot of titles," the 28-year-old Tsonga said. "I'm trying to get my bearings again, which is why I was so happy to win."
Tsonga next plays either sixth-seeded Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France or Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky.
"I didn't play well last time (in Rotterdam). But you shouldn't forget that, and use the experience," said Tsonga, referring to his straight-sets loss to Croat Marin Cilic in the second round of the ABN Amro tournament. "I absolutely must raise my level."
Later, top-seeded Richard Gasquet of France was playing his second-round match against Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic.
In other first-round matches on Wednesday, there were wins for eighth-seeded Nicolas Mahut of France, Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff, Frenchman Michael Llodra and Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania.
Mahut beat countryman Kenny De Schepper 7-6 (2), 6-3; Struff beat David Guez 3-6, 6-1, 6-1; Bautista Agut won 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 against Dustin Brown; Llodra downed Lukas Lacko 6-3, 7-6 (2), and Berankis led 6-5 when Jan Hajek retired.