(CNN) -- It is testament to Novak Djokovic's prowess on the tennis court that the Serbian can still battle his way to victory despite admitting he is not 100% fit.
The world No. 1 turned his ankle during Serbia's recent Davis Cup victory over the United States, throwing his participation at the Monte Carlo Masters into doubt.
But on Wednesday Djokovic took to the court and though he was made to work hard for his three-set victory by Russia's Mikhail Youzhny he held firm to triumph 4-6 6-1 6-4.
"My movements on the clay are still not at the maximum and not where I want them to be," Djokovic told the ATP Tour's official website.
"But as the days go by, I think I'm going to slowly get into it and hopefully I can elevate the level of performance in the next match. Today was a big test, over two hours. I had a great quality opponent.
"I'm very happy to win. I'm just happy to compete, to be honest. I didn't know if I'm going to be playing the tournament up to yesterday basically. I know that my game is still not there, obviously, and I had a lot of ups and downs throughout the match.
"Physically also I think I've put double the effort than I do usually because I still don't feel comfortable.
"I haven't practiced much. An hour maximum a day. Obviously it's taking its toll on my game. But as I said, happy to win and see what tomorrow can bring."
Djokovic is looking to finally claim the Monte Carlo title after being beaten by Spain's Rafael Nadal in last year's final as well as in 2009.
Nadal has won eight successive titles in Monte Carlo and recorded his 43rd straight tournament victory by dispatching Australia's Marinko Matosevic 6-1 6-2.
The 11-time grand slam champion is on a 15-match winning run having taken titles in Sao Paulo, Acapulco and Indian Wells and enjoyed a comfortable win, despite going 2-0 down in the second set.
"I played well at the beginning with the right intensity, with no mistakes," said Nadal. "I was trying to do the right things to find a good feeling on the ball, to find the right rhythm. I played to the right places, and that gave me confidence.
"I didn't play my best game, the first game of the second, and he played well, so he had the break. And after that he played well for a while in the next games.
"Then he had good chances, two break points for [a] 3 0 [lead]. It was not an easy moment. I played one good point and I was able to come back."
World No. 2 Andy Murray, from Britain, took just 73 minutes to ease past France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin, winning 6-1 6-4.
"I won the close games, which was important," said Murray. "I didn't make too many mistakes. It was solid.
"I returned well, served well. If you do those two things well on any surface. it gives you a good base to work from. It was a good start."
Tomas Berdych, the No. 4 seed from the Czech Republic, beat Spain's Marcel Granollers 7-5 6-4 while No. 9 seed Marian Cilic saw off South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-2 6-3.
Two seeds suffered shock defeats as Spain's Nicolas Almagro, the No. 10 seed, was knocked out by Austrian Jurgen Melzer.
Canada's Milos Raonic, seeded 12, lost to Finalnd's Jarko Niemenen.