The Serbian was left dissatisfied with his performance but defeat for the Swiss will see him fall outside the world's top 250.
Djokovic cruises at French Open but defeat sees Wawrinka plummet down rankings
Novak Djokovic booked his place in the second round of the French Open on Monday, but the 2016 champion was far from pleased with his performance.
Djokovic, the 20th seed, defeated Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Da Silva 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in just over two hours and will next face Spain’s Jaume Munar, who edged out compatriot David Ferrer over five sets.
The straight sets victory is the latest positive sign for the 31-year-old Serbian as he continues his climb back up the world rankings following a lengthy absence with an elbow injury.
However, the former world No 1 said he was not satisfied with a display that saw him drop serve three times.
"It was good to start this year with a win,” said Djokovic, who reached the Italian Open semi-final in his last outing. “I wasn't at my best, he played with a lot of spin. I didn't play very well, but I won in three sets."
Despite his dissatisfaction, Djokovic also said he felt he was beginning to play better and free of pain after "a long 12 months". This year is the first that Djokovic has not won a tour-level title prior to the French Open.
Asked if the tour was too demanding on players he replied: "The fact is we have the longest season of all sports and that is unfortunately hurting a lot of players.
"We all try to be fit, get our bodies and mind in the best possible state so we can always compete at the highest level but it's not always possible."
While Djokovic safely booked his passage to the second round, another returning champion saw his French Open campaign end at the first hurdle.
Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Djokovic in the 2015 final, was eliminated by Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 as the Swiss continues to struggle following his return from a long-term absence.
Wawrinka, 33, has been plagued by a knee injury and arrived at Roland Garros having won just one match on clay in Geneva last week, his first event in three months.
The defeat means that the three-time grand slam champion will slip from No 30 in the world to outside the top 250 after the tournament, having failed to defend the ranking points he gained in 2017.
"There is no frustration. It's just tough," Wawrinka said. "But again, I knew from the beginning that it will take a long, a lot of time to get back. I knew that from the surgery that it will take a year at least to get where I want to be."
There was a comfortable win for last year’s semi-finalist Dominic Thiem, who needed just one hour and 46 minutes to defeat Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
Thiem, the seventh seed from Austria, is the only player to beat Nadal on a clay court this season when he defeated the Spaniard in the Madrid Open quarter-finals.
Thiem faces Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round aiming for revenge after the Greek teenager convincingly won their Barcelona Open quarter-final match last month.
Local favourite Richard Gasquet had few problems in his first round match after the Frenchman thrashed Italy's Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-2, 6-2, while Tunisia's Malek Jaziri defeated Russian Mikhail Youzhny 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
Tuesday's second round action includes an all-German contest as second seed Alexander Zverev takes on compatriot Florian Mayer.