Ferrer, elevated into the top four seeds by Andy Murray's withdrawal, does not have anything like the same profile as those above him and found himself out on Court Two for his match against fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes on Wednesday.
Montanes won his first title for almost three years in Nice last week but proved no obstacle to Ferrer's hopes of reaching a first grand slam final, the 31-year-old winning 6-2 6-1 6-3.
Ferrer next meets another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez, who defeated Portugal's Joao Sousa in four sets on Wednesday.
Tsonga held two match points against Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals last year before going on to lose in five sets and is the home nation's main hope 30 years after Yannick Noah won the title.
He had a tougher time against Jarkko Nieminen - who, 12 months ago, was the man at the other end of the court during Murray's back dramas - but came through 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 6-3.
Tsonga, whose description of Nieminen was "as sure as a Swiss clock", said: "I'm French, it's in France and of course there may be a bit more pressure, but for me it's positive.
"It's positive pressure, because I have everything to win and I would say nothing to lose. If I lose the second round or third round, that's it. What happens after that?
"But if I go far in this tournament or if I win, it's going to be something huge. I have to play every match, I have to concentrate. But, at this stage of the tournament, I'm playing good tennis."
Gael Monfils was the toast of Roland Garros again on Wednesday as he followed up his upset of Tomas Berdych with a brilliant victory over Ernests Gulbis.
With his rubber-like limbs propelling him to amazing court coverage and the crowd-pleasing skills of a jester, it is easy to see why the Parisians, and many others, love Monfils.
The 26-year-old was the dominant figure in a junior era that also included Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, yet he has never fulfilled his potential as a senior, winning only four ATP titles and making just one grand slam semi-final.
Injuries have certainly not helped Monfils, and his current ranking of 81 is largely down to knee problems that forced him to miss a large chunk of last season.
Yet he is also a mercurial figure as likely to lose a match he should have won as to conjure up some magic.
Magic is certainly what he has been at the French Open this year, though, with his five-set win over Berdych the match of the men's singles so far.
Wednesday's clash was not far behind it, although Gulbis, another player blessed with more talent than his results suggest, lost heart in the fourth set as Monfils clinched a 6-7 (5/7) 6-4 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 victory after three hours and 15 minutes.
The end of the third set was where the match really sparkled, as Gulbis saved five set points and then had a number of chances to serve for it himself only to lose out in a tie-break.
Monfils celebrated by taking a picture of the crowd with his phone, and Murray, watching on TV back home, tweeted his support, saying: "La monf to win rolly g? £allezlamonf"
Next up for the Frenchman is 32nd seed Tommy Robredo, another man working his way back from injury problems, who on Wednesday fought back from two sets down to defeat Dutchman Igor Sijsling.
Poor weather on Tuesday meant there were a number of first-round matches still to play.
Eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic was a 6-2 7-6 (7/4) 6-1 winner over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut while another home player, 24th seed Benoit Paire, finished off an entertaining four-set win over Marcos Baghdatis that had been called off on Tuesday night.
Tenth seed Marin Cilic, 23rd seed Kevin Anderson and 25th seed Jeremy Chardy were among the second-round winners.