Doha - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga laboured to a first-round victory at the Qatar Open on Tuesday, defeating wildcard Malek Jaziri in three sets in blustery conditions.
The third-seeded Frenchman triumphed 7-6, 6-7, 6-1 after struggling with his forehand on Doha's centre court.
"I played a lot last year to come back into the top 10, it was really difficult for me," Tsonga said in a courtside interview.
"I came into this tournament without very good preparation. However, I'm here and hopefully I will play good tennis."
The first two sets went with serve as the players traded tiebreaks before Tsonga, ranked six in the world, took a 3-1 lead in the final set, winning the next two games to love as he wore down the bulky Jaziri.
Tsonga, 26, played a clever lob to earn two match points, sealing victory after the Tunisian put a forehand into the net.
There was little between the players in the first two sets. At 6-5 ahead in the first, Tsonga missed a straightforward forehand to allow his opponent to pull level.
The subsequent tiebreak was riddled with errors, Jaziri serving two double faults and Tsonga one. Tsonga recovered from a mini-break down to clinch the set with a fierce serve that Jaziri, 27, could only club into the net.
Jaziri, the world No 118, saved a break point in the opening game of the second set, dashing to the net to dispatch a whipped winner, and both players increasingly moved in from the baseline, with Tsonga often struggling to return shots played around his feet.
Yet neither player could find a break and the second set concluded with another tiebreak.
Jaziri surged into a 4-1 lead, digging out a brilliant drop shot volley as he charged into the net after Tsonga had given away two points with unforced errors.
The 2008 Australian Open runner-up recovered to take the score to 6-5, but a wide forehand allowed Jaziri to square the match.
Early results from ATP Qatar Open on Tuesday (x denotes seeding):
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) bt Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-2, 2-6, 6-3
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS x7) bt Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2
Grega Zemlja (SLO) bt Sergei Bubka (UKR) 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x3) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 6-1
Denis Gremelmayr (GER) bt Potito Starace (ITA) 6-3, 6-2
Matthias Bachinger (GER) bt Roberto Bautista (ESP) 6-3, 6-4
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 6-7 (1/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/3)