(CNN) -- Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal was made to fight through three sets on Wednesday before beating Italian Simone Bolelli 4-6 6-2 7-5 to reach the second round of the Rotterdam Open.
Australian Open champion Nadal needed three sets to win his opening match in Rotterdam.
Spain's world number one, who now faces Bulgarian junior Wimbledon and US champion Grigor Dimitrov, made light of losing the opening set.
"I deserved this win," said Nadal. "I had all of the chances and he didn't. I also had two match points. I picked up my game in the third set and started serving better.
"I found my rhythm, but I had a bad game in the first set before I started playing better. I'm in the second round and I expect a better result. I'm hoping to play better."
There was plenty of encouragement for France with Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga among the winners.
Sixth-seeded Simon, who made a breakthrough in 2008 with three titles, forgot worries about pre-event back pain to oust German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5 7-6.
Tsonga, fresh from a title in Johannesburg, claimed his 13th win of the season against two defeats, beating local wild card Jesse Huta Galung 7-6 7-6 in just under two hours.
The 2007 winner Mikhail Youzhny, ranked 62nd, booked the first of the quarterfinal places as he upset sixth seed David Ferrer 6-2 3-6 6-2.
French defending champion Michael Llodra began his title defense on a strong note, taming the huge serve of Ivo Karlovic 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the first round despite 25 aces from the towering Croatian.
Youzhny, with only two previous wins this season, will face either Simon or Croatian Mario Ancic.
Ancic, losing finalist at the weekend in Zagreb, put out another German, defeating veteran Rainer Schuettler 7-5 6-2.