British number one Andy Murray came through a serious examination by American Robby Kendrick to win his first-round match at Wimbledon.
The Scot, seeded three, remained cool despite soaring temperatures on Centre Court and saw off the world number 76 from California 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4.
Murray withstood some heavy serving and fine attacking play from Kendrick to win in two hours 37 minutes.
He will play Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, the world number 74, in round two.
"It was a tough match, you know, I expected it to be difficult," said Murray. "He served great for two-and-a-half, three sets and he made it very difficult for me.
"He played very aggressive and served a very high percentage of first serves, and I didn't return as well as I would have liked, but I was happy with the way that I served throughout."
Murray is already the centre of considerable attention after a superb 12 months that has seen him rise to number three in the world and made him a serious contender to end the 73-year wait since Fred Perry last lifted the men's singles trophy for Britain.
Murray pleased with 'tough' win
He headed into his opening match at the All England Club with a 3-0 record against Kendrick, including a 6-0 6-0 demolition in their only encounter on grass three years ago.
The 22 year-old from Dunblane immediately set about proving he was a class above Kendrick with a break in game two and he appeared to be cruising to the opening set, but from 4-2 the Briton's serve began to misfire and Kendrick's aggression started to pay dividends.
The American levelled at 4-4 when Murray double-faulted and Kendrick was just two points from taking the set at 0-30 up in game nine.
Murray fired a serve down the middle that was called out but Hawk-Eye ruled in the Scot's favour and the danger had passed, for the moment.
With the first, rather gentle, cheers of "Murray, Murray" floating around the arena, their man found his range on the backhand and had Kendrick sprawling at the net as he broke for 6-5 and then served out the set.
Murray had the first chance to break after a quiet start to the second set but Kendrick averted the crisis in game five with a bold sortie to the net.
The American's attacking style held Murray in check sufficiently to force a tie-break, and when the Briton double-faulted to trail 4-3 there was a distinct feeling of unease around Centre Court.
That turned to outright alarm when Kendrick, oozing confidence, powered through the next three points to level the match.
Kendrick's serve was the dominant factor in the match as the third set progressed and Murray needed a lift - which the man from Fresno finally handed over in game seven with a double-fault and a wayward forehand.
Murray pumped his fist and roared, as much in relief as delight, but there was more to come from Kendrick as a spectacular diving volley in game 10 gave him a break-back point.
However, he found the net at the key moment and Murray survived to wrap up an edgy set and move ahead.
Kendrick had profited from his high-risk strategy and continued to look impressive at the net but the errors began to hurt him in the fourth set, a wild forehand giving Murray a break point that the Scot converted with a backhand pass for 3-2.
One incredible over-the-shoulder winner had Murray pumping his fist again as he closed in on victory, and he took his second match point to seal victory at 7.46pm.
"I thought the atmosphere was very good, especially at the end of the match and at the end of the second set," said Murray.
"Every time I've played on Centre Court it's been good and it was what I expected."
Murray goes on to face the talented Gulbis knowing he will need to improve all-round if he is to stay on course for a first Grand Slam title.
"I need to focus on the next match, I've got a very tough opponent," he said. "He hits a huge ball and I need to be on my game to beat him."
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