Tsonga reached the final of the 2008 Australian Open as an unseeded player
Ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga booked his place in the second round of the Madrid Open with a 6-4 7-5 win over former world number one Marat Safin.
The powerful Frenchman recorded a single break in each set to defeat the unseeded 29-year-old Russian.
Elsewhere, home favourite David Ferrer, the 12th seed, coasted past Argentina's Guillermo Canas 6-2 6-2.
Andy Murray plays Simone Bolelli in the second round after the Italian beat Juan Ignacio Chela 7-5 7-6 (7-3).
Tsonga sealed the first set at the first opportunity with a firm drive that clipped the baseline.
The match concluded when an errant Safin collapsed to 0-40 down on his serve, and though he saved one match point, the next attempted winner went wide.
"I'm happy with my game," 24-year-old Tsonga commented. "I played great tennis, offensive tennis. I hit some good serves, some good volleys and I was really aggressive, so I'm happy."
Tsonga now faces wildcard Ivan Ljubicic.