Andy Murray finally won his first match since the Australian Open as he opened his clay court season with a 6-1 6-4 success over Radek Stepanek at the Monte Carlo Masters this afternoon.
Since that win, a semi-final victory over David Ferrer on January 28, Murray has lost the Melbourne final to Novak Djokovic, split with coach Alex Corretja and failed to win a single set of tennis.
He managed to lay some of his demons to rest here, though, as he took the role of the aggressor against the Czech and, after conceding the first game, rarely looked back as he stormed on to set up a third-round meeting with Gilles Simon.
One blemish was his dropping of serve late in the second set which signalled a brief comeback from Stepanek, but he quickly regained his composure to see the game out.
Having prepared for the match by practising with world number one and clay court specialist Rafael Nadal, Murray looked eager to impose himself on the contest from the off and, despite losing the first game, showed positive signs in coming back fro 40-0 down to take the game to deuce.
He held comfortably in the second game before taking a third break point in the third game when Stepanek sent a forehand wide of the line.
A comfortable hold to love put Murray 3-1 ahead as he cemented the break, before he broke again in the next game, chasing down a drop shot from Stepanek and then booming a cross-court forehand beyond his opponent.
Murray was hitting hard from the baseline and used his power to hold in the sixth, before he won his first set 75 days with a cross-court backhand following another aggressive game.
The three-time Grand Slam finalist made just one unforced error in the set, and opened the second with a comfortable hold before Stepanek ended a run of seven straight game losses.
Murray held again and then secured his fourth break to take command of the second set, with the break point teed up by a terrific backhand winner from deep and low on the court.
Stepanek earned himself three break points in the next game, punishing a poor volley and then forcing Murray to hit wide, only for the Scot to save them all and then take the game with another crushing forehand.
Stepanek did enough to take the sixth game of the set, and then took the seventh when he broke Murray for the first time, taking the second of two break points given to him when Murray netted.
His revival continued as he levelled at 4-4, but Murray steadied to 5-4 and then missed the chance to get to match point when he came in on a drop shot but netted.
It did not matter, though, as he made another drop shot to take the game to deuce and then forced Stepanek to hit long on his first match point.