Paris, France (Sports Network) - Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal needed four sets to win his first-round match Monday at the French Open.
The reigning three-time winner and third seed had his hands full with 6-foot-5 Daniel Brands on Day 2, but the clay-court king from Spain fought back to beat his German counterpart 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-3 on Court Chatrier at Stade Roland Garros.
The 11-time Grand Slam singles titlist and former world No. 1 Nadal beat current top-ranked star Novak Djokovic in last year's French finale.
Meanwhile, sixth-seeded French crowd favorite and former Australian Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga drilled helpless Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
In other action involving top-16 seeds, No. 10 Marin Cilic of Croatia whipped German Philipp Petzschner 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 and No. 13 Kei Nishikori of Japan crushed Canadian Jesse Levine 6-3, 6-2, 6-0.
Feliciano Lopez outlasted 31st-seeded fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, while 32nd-seeded Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo cruised past Estonian Jurgen Zopp 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
Some other opening-round winners were France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin, German Tobias Kamke and Dutchman Igor Sijsling.