Murray defeated world No 317 Yuki Bhambri in straight sets on Margaret Court Arena, but was made to work hard to claim a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7/3) victory in two hours and 13 minutes.
The 27-year-old had to come back from 4-1 down in the third set and kept up a running commentary on his own failings, loudly decrying his “shocking movement” at one point.
However, Murray gave credit to his opponent for causing him problems and was happy with how he served, particularly in winning 79 per cent of points behind his sometimes vulnerable second serve.
“I think in some sense when you’re playing you tend to say things that you don’t really mean,” said Murray, who will face Marinko Matosevic in the second round tomorrow after the Australian beat Russia’s Alexander Kudryavtsev in five sets. “That’s just how the brain works. I’ve learned a lot about that over the last couple years.
“I do feel like he made me feel that way because of the way he was playing. He was rushing me. My movement after the return or after the serve, I was a little bit slow there. Once I got into the rallies I was moving good.
“But because of the way he was playing, and also maybe just feeling that court was a bit quicker, I thought I was a little bit slow on the first shot of each rally. But I served very well. That was good.
“The whole match he made it very difficult. He played very aggressive, he is very talented and he made it tough.”
Fifth seed Ana Ivanovic was the biggest casualty on day one, losing to Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka 6-1 3-6 2-6.
Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard safely advanced to the second round, but ninth seed Angelique Kerber was one of eight seeds to make an early exit from the bottom half of the draw.
Rafael Nadal beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-3 6-2 6-2 and Roger Federer overcame Yen-Hsun Lu 6-4 6-2 7-5, but Tommy Robredo was forced to retire due to a groin injury in his first set.