It was business as usual for grand slam veteran Federer as he made light work of Spanish debutant Pablo Carreno-Busta in the first round, starting his bid for a second Roland Garros title with a 6-2 6-2 6-3 victory.
The second-seeded Swiss, who is two shy of Wayne Ferreira's record of 56 consecutive grand slam appearances, never looked in danger on Court Philippe Chatrier, wrapping it up with an exquisite backhand winner which arrowed down the line.
Once again, the 17-times grand slam winner is not the top favourite on the Paris clay, but it has no impact on him.
"Like the other years, they said Djokovic was going to win the four grand slams in a row, that Rafa (Nadal) was a favourite to win the tournament. Then he says it's not true. It's always the same thing every year," Federer, who won his only Roland Garros title in 2009, told a news conference.
He will face another qualifier, Indian Somdev Devvarman, for a place in the third round.
Federer, who made his grand slam debut at Roland Garros in a four-set defeat against third seed Pat Rafter in 1999, served 10 aces and fired 11 forehand winners in an 80-minute masterclass against a fresh-faced opponent who won seven consecutive tournaments this year on the Futures circuit.
The Swiss was aware that Carreno-Busta's 166th ranking in the world did not reflect the Spaniard's talent, especially on clay, so he applied the pressure early on against a player who reached the semi-finals at this year's Portugal Open.
"He had played a lot of matches on clay, in comparison with me," said Federer.
"I knew it could be tricky if I didn't sustain a certain level of play and certain aggressiveness, get caught up maybe in long rallies, maybe what he's looking for.
"I think I started all three sets well, was able to get in the lead. And then playing from the lead against a player like him it's always easier, and so I put a lot of emphasis on that."
The 21-year-old Carreno-Busta broke once in the opening set but struggled to make a contest of the match which was his first in a grand slam main draw compared to the 291 Federer has now contested at the majors.
Carreno-Busta is now set to compete more at Tour level, having played only nine ATP matches in his career to Federer's 1,101.
"I think I played eight Futures this year and I played really well," Carreno Busta told a news conference.
"I won seven, and it was very, very good for my confidence and for my level in tennis. But I think now is time for me to play these matches with these opponents."
Fourth seed David Ferrer got off to a similarly impressive start, the Spanish star easing past Marinko Matosevic of Australia 6-4 6-3 6-4.
Home favourite Simon battled back from two sets behind to win, although he looked like capitulating late on when old warrior Hewitt won five games in a row from 5-0 behind in the decider.
Simon, one of six Frenchmen seeded at this year's championships, screamed at himself to "relax" as Hewitt silenced the crowd on a chilly Suzanne Lenglen court by breezing through the opening two sets.
He finally loosened his shoulders and with 32-year-old Hewitt beginning to look leg-weary, Simon was strolling to victory when he opened up a large lead in the fifth set.
No French player has won the men's singles at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983 and with each passing year that statistic weighs a little more heavily on the current crop led by sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and the 28-year-old Simon.
When he squandered two match points, one when his string snapped and the other when Hewitt got lucky with a net cord, the tension was mounting again, especially with Hewitt's reputation for revelling in five-set dogfights.
For a while the straight-jacket that appeared to be fastened round Simon for the first two sets returned but he recovered some composure from 5-5 and completed his first career victory from a two-set deficit when Hewitt netted a forehand to finish an amazing match that at one point included a 43-shot rally.
"It was very, very complicated in the beginning," Simon said courtside. "Everybody was cheering me on but I could not do anything. At two sets down I started to play better.
"I think I have never recovered from two sets down. Well, now it's done. At 5-0 I had the feeling I was going to win but he started to play better and there were a few close points and then, I got tense."
Former world number one and twice grand slam champion Hewitt has never excelled on claycourts but pushed Simon from side to side for the first half of the three hour 19 minute contest.
Once Simon began to increase the power of his groundstrokes and shake off his inhibitions the match swung quickly.
At one stage early in the fifth set Hewitt needed running repairs on his foot - the various strappings and supports binding his ankle evidence of the punishment his body has taken in 56 grand slam appearances.
The durability that once marked Hewitt out as one of the game's toughest competitors may have waned but the old fire still burns inside and when he surged back in the fifth an incredible victory looked possible.
It was not to be, however, as the weary world number 86 finally succumbed, much to Simon's relief.
Men's first round results:
Michael Llodra (France) beat Steve Darcis (Belgium) 6-4 4-6 6-1 6-4
4-David Ferrer (Spain) beat Marinko Matosevic (Australia) 6-4 6-3 6-4
20-Andreas Seppi (Italy) beat Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) 6-7(4) 6-4 6-3 6-7(2) 6-4
Somdev Devvarman (India) beat Daniel Munoz (Spain) 6-3 6-3 7-5
25-Jeremy Chardy (France) beat Benjamin Becker (Germany) 6-4 6-2 7-5
Jan Hajek (Czech Republic) beat Denis Kudla (U.S.) 6-2 5-7 6-0 6-4
18-Sam Querrey (U.S.) beat Lukas Lacko (Slovakia) 6-3 6-4 6-4
2-Roger Federer (Switzerland) beat Pablo Carreno (Spain) 6-2 6-2 6-3
15-Gilles Simon (France) beat Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 3-6 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-5
Roberto Bautista (Spain) beat Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) 6-3 6-4 6-2
23-Kevin Anderson (South Africa) beat Illya Marchenko (Ukraine) 6-3 7-5 6-4
14-Milos Raonic (Canada) beat Xavier Malisse (Belgium) 6-2 6-1 4-6 6-4
Blaz Kavcic (Slovenia) beat James Duckworth (Australia) 6-2 6-2 6-2
Joao Sousa (Portugal) beat Go Soeda (Japan) 6-1 6-3 6-2
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- Lleyton Hewitt
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