Ninth seed Paul-Henri Mathieu was knocked out of the Monte Carlo Masters on a day of mixed French fortunes at the claycourt tournament, losing 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in the first round to Serb Janko Tipsarevic.
Gustavo Kuerten, once acknowledged as the king of clay but who will retire after this year's French Open, also suffered a 6-1, 6-2 drubbing by Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic.
Young British 14th seed Andy Murray produced a convincing display, however, to see off Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-6, 6-4.
Tipsarevic received treatment on a sore left ankle at 3-3 in the first set but got back on court to break Mathieu and then held on to his lead.
Mathieu levelled the tie with some fine groundstrokes that caught Tipsarevic off guard. But the Frenchman dropped serve in the fifth game of the decider and never recovered.
Gael Monfils was France's only winner on the day, with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
Murray next meets Italy's Filippo Volandri, who defeated Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-2, 6-3, and faces a possible third-round encounter with world number three Novak Djokovic if the Serb beats Ljubicic on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Scot, who won the Doha and Marseille tournaments earlier this year, played solid tennis throughout to outclass Lopez, whom he had already beaten in Washington two years ago on a hard surface.
"I did not make too many mistakes. I could have returned a bit better, could have moved forward a bit better," Murray told reporters.
"On clay, you've got to play more patiently, find the balance between when to go for your shots and when to move back."
Lopez saved a set point to force a tiebreak, which he lost 7-5 despite shrugging off two more set points. Murray cut loose in the second set, breaking his opponent in the first and seventh games.
Murray dropped serve in the eighth game but clinched victory on his second match point when Lopez netted a forehand.
Spaniard Carlos Moya, who won the French Open 10 years ago, slumped to a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 defeat at the hands of unheralded Sam Querrey of the United States.
The Spanish 10th seed was wiped out in one hour and 37 minutes by the 20-year-old Querrey, who won the Las Vegas tournament earlier this year.
His compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero recovered from a shaky start to see off Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-7, 6-1, 6-1.
The former French Open champion, who won the tournament in 2002 and 2003, will battle it out for a third-round spot against either Finn Jarkko Nieminen or France's Marc Gicquel.
There was no comeback for three-times French Open champion Kuerten on centre court. The Brazilian was thrashed by Ljubicic in 51 minutes.
"Today, Ivan was very very strong," Kuerten said in a courtside interview.
"Now I can go back home and rest."