Top seed Ana Ivanovic won her first match after nearly a month of inactivity, barely squeezing into the second round of the US Open over Russian Vera Dushevina 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 on Tuesday. ( dpa )
The Serb has been dealing with a thumb injury and has been limited to one practise session per day after being forced out of the Beijing Games before the start.
Ivanovic has now won all five of her meetings with Dushevina, who is ranked 57th and stands 5- 6 in New York. The shaky victory from a set and 4-2 lead took just over two hours of struggle.
Ivanovic is fighting to retain her number one ranking after swopping back and forth with compatriot Jelena Jankovic. According to WTA statistics, five other women have chances to seize the top spot from her by the end of the Grand Slam fortnight.
Ivanovic got off quickly with a 6-1 opening set over Dushevina, but was unable to maintain as she dropped the second.
The seed secured a break for 4- 3 in the third, fired a love game but missed on a first match point with a forehand error for 5-4.
She steeled herself in the next game after double-faulting away a second winning opportunity, coming good on her third chance from Dushevina's error.
"I started really well," said Ivanovic. "I'm just happy to be on a court again and competing.
"When I was a break up in the second set I lost concentration, and things did not go well. I'm just happy I was able to get through.
"The thumb felt fine, I was very disappointed not to have played the Olympics. For me, every match here is a bonus and I'm trying to play the best that I can."
Olympic silver medallist Dinara Safina, seeded sixth, began with a win as she defeated Kristie Ahn of the US 6-3, 6-4, while Hungary's 13th seed Agnes Szavay defeated American Gail Brodsky 7-5, 6-3.
In men's play, Croatian 14th seed Ivo Karlovic handled Czech Jan Minar 7-5, 6-1, 6-4, while American youngster Sam Querrey stunned Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.
Frenchman Florent Serra reached the second round as Wimbledon semi-finalist Rainer Schuettler quit trailing 7-6 (10-8), 6-0, 2-0.
The German player cold not speak at the weekend due to a cold and had feared the match might not go the distance. He missed early chances with four set points in the opening set.