World number two Novak Djokovic moved through to the second round in his first appearance since 2007 at the ABN-AMRO World Tennis when Sergiy Stakhovsky quit after less than an hour with a knee problem.
The top-seeded Serb was untroubled in the 6-2, 4-1 victory, and next faces a sterner test against Marco Chiudinelli.
Djokovic has plenty to prove after falling victim to fitness in his quarterfinal loss last month at the Australian Open.
“He’s an indoor player,” Djokovic said of Chiudinelli, best tennis friend of Roger Federer. “I beat him in four sets in Melbourne, but it was a tough match. I need to be aggressive.
“I’m motivated, I want to do well this week.” Djokovic stopped number 69 Ukrainian Stakhovsky for the second time after a French Open win and now stands 5-2 this season.
The Serb broke in the third game of both sets, with Stakhovsky taking treatment on a knee.
Chiudinelli won his main draw debut in Rotterdam with an upset of 2008 champion Michael Llodra of France 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (8-6) in two-and-a-half hours. Number 70 Llodra could not translate 16 aces and two breaks of serve into a first round victory, with Chiudinelli breaking five times.
Djokovic stands world number two behind Federer and needs points over the coming month to stay ahead of hot rival Andy Murray, recent Australian Open finalist and Rotterdam holder who is not making a title defence.
France’s January Sydney semifinalist Julien Benneteau scored a minor upset as he took out Croatian seventh seed Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-3 in just over two-and-a-half hours.
Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan improved to a modest 1-2 in 2010 as he beat Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-1, 6-4.
The host nation got a welcome win as young Dutch talent Theo de Bakker moved past Czech Jan Hajek 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
Second seed Nikolay Davydenko was starting his week on Wednesday with a match against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, fresh from a title in Johannesburg.