World number four Naomi Osaka made it to the US Open second round after a scary start that could have embarrassingly knocked her out.
Osaka, who won the first of her two Grand Slams at Flushing Meadows in 2018, wobbled in the second set before recovering for a 6-2 5-7 6-2 victory.
The 22-year-old who withdrew from the Western and Southern Open final on Saturday with a left hamstring injury, barely beat fellow Japanese player Misaki Doi a 6-2 5-7 6-2.
Osaka did not appear to need medical attention but she struggled with her first serve in the early part of the match, landing only 38% as Doi took control in the second set and threatened to level the match.
“It was difficult [physically]. I knew there was a chance it would get really long. I will have to see what happens tomorrow and how I feel,” Osaka said.
However, the former World number one bounced back finding more power and precision with her serves and returns to fight back from 5-2 down to level at 5-5.
Although Doi took back control of the game through Osaka’s 20th unforced error, Osaka Osaka increased her level again with a 5-2 lead, to come through in two hours and three minutes.
She came out on court wearing a face mask with the name of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot dead by a policeman in the United States in March.
Asked about it in her on-court interview, she said: “I have seven. It is quite sad seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names – and hopefully I’ll get to the final and you will see all of them.”
Osaka had initially pulled out of her Western and Southern Open semi-final last week as a protest against racial injustice.
Meanwhile, Coco Gauff was dumped out of the tournament by World number 31 Anastasija Sevastova in 6-3 5-7 6-4 defeat.
The 16-year-old and World number 51 could not replicate her outstanding performances which saw her reach the third round at her home Grand Slam in 2019 as well as reaching the fourth round at Australia Open in January.
Tournament organisers had initially suspended play in New York on Thursday, one of a number of sporting events in the US to do so in protest at the shooting of Jacob Blake – a black man who was shot seven times in the back by police on 23 August in Kenosha, Wisconsin.