NEW YORK : Bianca Andreescu overcame stomach pain and a stiff challenge from Viktorija Golubic to advance 7-5 4-6 7-5 into the second round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old, making her return to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time since she won the tournament in 2019, got all she could handle from the Swiss in the nearly three-hour affair on a hot and humid night in New York.
But the sixth-seeded Andreescu's seven aces and punishing groundstrokes ultimately proved too much for Golubic.
The Canadian yelled "Come on" and pumped her fist after Golubic sent a forehand wide on match point to seal the win.
Few knew what to expect from Andreescu coming into the year's final Grand Slam tournament.
After defeating Serena Williams in the 2019 final, Andreescu's 2020 Grand Slam campaign was written off by injury and sickness that included everything from tearing the meniscus in her left knee to testing positive for COVID-19.
This year, she has managed just one win at a Grand Slam tournament - a first-round victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu at this year's Australian Open.
That was followed by first-round exits at both the French Open and Wimbledon.
"It's definitely emotional," Andreescu said in an on-court interview after the match.
"I didn't play here last year and I honestly didn't play anything in 2020. I've been struggling a lot this past year so for me, I'm just thinking about all those struggles and how it's all worth it.
"Winning on this court again is just incredible."
Andreescu needed a medical time out midway through the second set to attend to an upset stomach, but said it turned out to be fine.
"My food was just rumbling in my stomach and I felt like I had to throw up, which is random because I ate like, five hours ago," she said.
"It was totally fine after a couple games but it was a little tough."
Next up for Andreescu is a second round clash with American Lauren Davis on Thursday.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Kim Coghill)