(CNN) -- Marin Cilic sealed his place in the third round of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters after a hard-fought win over Igor Andreev of Russia on Tuesday.
The fourth seed eventually dispatched Andreev 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 6-4 but it took the Croatian nearly three hours to do so.
Cilic, appearing in his first clay-court match for 10 months, started slowly and allowed the Russian to dominate the early exchanges and clinch the first set on a tie-break.
But Cilic regained his momentum in the second set, offering up just one game as he marched to a 6-1 success.
And though Cilic twice went a break down in the deciding set, he held on to claim it 6-4 and progress to round three.
"The conditions were tough, the balls were heavy," Cilic told the official ATP Tour Web site.
"I just wanted to stay in it after losing that first set by making him play a lot of shots. Afterwards I found some solutions so I could win easier points and win the mental battle."
Cilic was joined in round three by French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Spanish sixth seed Fernando Verdasco, who both recorded straight-sets victories.
Verdasco breezed past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-2 6-1 in just under 75 minutes, while Tsonga defeated Nicolas Almagro of Spain 7-6 (7-5) 7-5.
Tomas Berdych set up a third-round match with Verdasco after beating Richard Gasquet of France in straight sets. The Czech 10th seed took less than an hour to record a 6-2 6-0 victory.
The top names in the field -- world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, five-time champion Rafael Nadal and third seed Andy Murray -- begin their campaigns on Wednesday after being handed a first-round bye.
Nadal beat Britain's Murray in last year's semifinals before going on to defeat Serbian Djokovic to claim the title.
The tournament marks the start of the European clay season in the buildup to the second grand slam event of 2010, the French Open starting on May 24.