On a nippy day in Paris that had spectators wearing thick coats after a spell of rain, less than half of Philippe Chatrier court was full for Stan Wawrinka's clash with Lukas Rosol at the French Open.
But by the time the first-round match ended, the majority of the world's most famous clay-court stadium was filled, an indication of not only a slight upturn in the weather but the drama unfolding.
Ultimately Wawrinka escaped 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-4 against the Czech with a giant-killing reputation to barely avoid becoming the first reigning men's champion at the French Open to exit in his opener the next season.
Another Czech made a stir, too. Qualifier Radek Stepanek, who turns 38 in November, led second-seed Andy Murray 6-3 6-3 0-6 2-4 when darkness halted their contest on centre just past 9:20 p.m. local time.
The cooler conditions, coupled with playing on the sport's slowest surface, certainly didn't lend itself to breathtaking tennis, yet Wawrinka and Rosol managed to strike more winners than unforced errors.
And on the second day of this year's tournament, Wawrinka produced enough glittering shots to fill a highlight reel all by himself.
He even did it without his red and white, pajama looking shorts that became so famous 12 months ago.
It's rare for grand slam winners to contest a tournament the week before a major but that's what the Swiss opted to do.
Wawrinka won the title at home in Geneva for a boost of confidence -- downing Rosol in the semifinals -- but then faced a quick turnaround.
Physically and emotionally, and when taking into consideration his opponent Monday, it came as no surprise he was pushed to the limit. Rosol ousted Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012 and when his booming, flat ground strokes are firing, he is difficult to contain.
Rosol refused to buckle when dropping the second set, racing to a 3-0 lead in the third.
With Wawrinka dealing with the pressure of serving second in the fourth and Rosol surging, the defending champion -- the only prominent Swiss men's player in the field after Roger Federer's withdrawal
-- capped a lengthy rally in the fifth game with a winning smash.
"He was going for his shots all the time, not missing much," Wawrinka told reporters.
The fifth game proved pivotal, as Wawrinka saved two break points to earn a 3-2 advantage. Rosol crumbled in the eighth game to trail 5-3 and the lone break of the fifth came a point after Wawrinka crunched one of his trademark one-handed backhands down the line.
He raised his arms in celebration -- and relief -- after converting a third match point, putting away a comfortable backhand volley.
Lasting a shade over three hours, Wawrinka would have probably wanted an easier outing as he attempts to become the eighth man to win back-to-back French Opens in the Open Era.
"It's never the best to start with a five-set match," conceded Wawrinka.
His opponent in the second round, Japan's Taro Daniel, also endured a five-set affair, rallying to beat the dangerous Martin Klizan. Klizan retired in the fifth with a neck injury to give Daniel a 3-6 4-6 7-5 6-4 3-0 win.
Murray enjoyed his finest clay-court buildup to the French Open this year and seemingly received a gentle draw Friday. Stepanek did take a set off Murray in Madrid this month but that was in quicker conditions that aids the attacking game of the former world No. 8.
Stepanek, though, played his all-court game to perfection in the first two sets against a passive Murray before the Scot raised his game, and Stepanek dipped, in the third and fourth sets. The current world No. 128 -- the only man to win back-to-back, live fifth matches in a Davis Cup final -- claimed a mere six points in the third set. The stoppage, then, benefited Stepanek.
Daniel's fellow Japanese, 2014 U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori, defeated Simone Bolelli 6-1 7-5 6-3. Nishikori led by two sets Sunday when rain postponed proceedings.
With Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Dominika Cibulkova in the top half of the women's draw, opportunity knocks in the bottom half and 2015 Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza is hoping to prosper.
The Spaniard went 7-3 on the clay prior to the French Open to gain momentum following a tough start to the season and she began her tournament by beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 3-6 6-3 6-3.
A breakthrough artist in 2015, Schmiedlova lost her 12th straight main draw match at the highest level.
Muguruza faces a potential fourth-round tussle with 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who overturned a one-set deficit herself, finishing off Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6 6-1 6-4 in a match also suspended by rain Sunday.
Women's second-seed Agnieszka Radwanska, a year after being upset in the first round, eased past Bojana Jovanovski 6-0 6-2 on her least favorite surface while sixth-seed Simona Halep, the 2014 finalist, routed Japan's Nao Hibino 6-2 6-0.