World number one Andy Murray made his return to the courts after recovering from an elbow injury and eased past Gilles Muller 7-5, 7-5 as he seeks to reach the final of the Monte-Carlo Masters for the first time.
Murray has been out of action since March but has worked his way back to full fitness and reckons his serve is back to its best.
"I wouldn't start the tournament unless I felt comfortable, but I've only been really serving at my normal pace the last couple of days," Murray said in an interview on the ATP Tour website ahead of his second round match on Wednesday.
"I've been trying to build it up slowly to time it right for the beginning of the tournament... the elbow has been feeling better every day, so I am positive about that."
Murray a late bloomer on clay
Murray took his time to come to grips with the clay surface, winning his first clay title in Munich in 2015, 10 years into his professional career.
He followed that up by winning the Madrid Open later that year, beating Spaniard Rafa Nadal, arguably the best clay court player of his generation.
Since 2015, Murray has been to three finals on clay, losing to Novak Djokovic in Madrid and French Open last year before beating the world number two in the 2016 Italian Open final.
"I never quite figured out the movement"
"I've always enjoyed playing on clay but I never quite figured out the movement," Murray said. "The last couple of years I spent lots of time with my team in training and preparation, working on it, timing my slides better. Once I did that, it's such a big part of my game and how I play that it just felt much more comfortable. That showed in my results and obviously winning matches and tournaments on the surface builds your confidence as well."
Murray lost to Nadal in the semi-finals at Monte-Carlo last year and said he was focused on improving his record at the tournament.
"This tournament has got a lot of history. I've come here many years and I do enjoy it," Murray added. "It would be nice to reach the final here. It's not going to be easy, the first tournament back after a while, but I've been feeling good and hopefully I can do it."
Three-time grand slam champion Murray next takes on 15th seed Albert Ramos.