Tim Henman dropped his first set in three clashes with Arnaud Clement before winning 4-6 6-4 6-3 to reach the third round in the Pacific Life Open.
The sixth seed, twice runner-up at this event in Indian Wells, was broken in his second and fourth service games as Clement won the set in 39 minutes.
The second was tense, but Henman went clear with two breaks either side of being broken to love himself.
Another break, in game two of the third set, gave him his match-winning chance.
The Briton admitted he had made heavy weather of winning.
"It was a struggle to find my rhythm in all aspects of my game," he said. "I was making so many unforced errors.
"But I had to keep believing I could turn it around and give myself a chance to improve and slowly but surely did it."
Third seed Andy Roddick narrowly avoided a shock defeat to 45th-ranked Fernando Verdasco of Spain winning 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-2) in his first match of the tournament.
"He was playing better than I was, and I was just trying to hang on," Roddick said.
Roddick, who has never made it past the quarter-finals in Indian Wells, will face Czech Jiri Novak in the next round after the Czech beat Belgium's Olivier Rochus 6-3 6-4.
Ninth seed Andre Agassi brushed aside Australian Wayne Arthurs 6-4 6-1.
There were also victories for fifth seed Guillermo Coria, number 10 David Nalbandian and number 12 Tommy Robredo.