The Wimbledon champion dropped a set on his first appearance at Roland Garros in two years, but never looked in real danger of following the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Li Na and Grigor Dimitrov out of the tournament.Golubev, along with the cold and windy conditions, made Murray’s life difficult before the Scot ground out a 6-1 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“It was tough conditions,” said Murray. “It was obviously windy, especially at the beginning of the match, and very heavy conditions, cold and slow.
“He goes for his shots a lot, and there wasn’t too much rhythm out there. It was a tricky match. For the rest of the match I did okay. I did what I had to do.
“There have been quite a few upsets here the last few days and tricky conditions. So the most important thing is to get through.”
Murray made a fine start, winning the first four games and not allowing Golubev, a Kazakh ranked 53, to hold his serve during the first set.
But Golubev’s mixture of winners and shanks was not allowing Murray to find any rhythm and, after a closer second set, the Scot’s serve deserted him as he lost the third. But Murray was solid in the fourth set and won in two hours and 35 minutes.
Murray next faces Australian Marinko Matosevic, who finally won a match in the main draw of a grand slam with a four-set victory over Dustin Brown, coming from 5-1 down in the fourth set.
It was 13th time lucky for the 28-year-old, who had lost all of his previous slam matches since his Australian Open debut in 2010.
Ivo Karlovic won his first French Open match in seven years to send 11th seed Dimitrov crashing out in the first round, winning 6-4 7-5 7-6.
French favourite Gael Monfils gave the crowd what they wanted with a 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory over Victor Hanescu, but Michael Llodra, who will retire at the end of this year, lost 2-6 6-7 (4/7) 6-7 (3/7) to 24th seed Fernando Verdasco.
Murray’s brother Jamie is through to the second round of the doubles, the Scot and Australian partner John Peers beating Vasek Pospisil and Rajeev Ram 6-1 4-6 7-6 (7/2). But Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins were not able to capitalise on a good start and lost 6-7 (6/8) 4-6 to Scott Lipsky and Santiago Gonzalez.