Samantha Stosur admitted relief at her first win of the season after an almighty scare from American qualifier Madison Brengle at the Hobart International.
The top-seeded Australian entered the tournament after three straight losses at the Hopman Cup as she shakes up her preparation for the Australian Open.
Stosur downed world No.147 Brengle 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-6 (7-5) in a rain-interrupted nailbiter at the Domain Tennis Centre.
“It’s obviously a big relief to get through that,” Stosur said.
“It’s been tough not winning a match at the Hopman Cup so to come here and get through that one, being as hard as what it was, I’m certainly very pleased.”
Brengle saved four match points before Stosur punched home a volley to convert her fifth in a third-set tiebreaker.
Rain, wind and temperatures that didn’t get much higher than 15C meant the match finished nearly five hours after it started.
Stosur struggled to hold serve in a rusty first set before clicking into gear and winning the second in just 19 minutes.
She broke in the third to lead 4-3 but failed to serve it out, Brengle saving three of the Australian’s match points before taking it to a tiebreaker.
“There’s definitely a few little moments where you think, ‘What am I feeling? How am I going to get through this?'” the 29-year-old said.
“I would have liked to have won 6-3 in the third but if it ends up being 7-6 and you go through all that extra kind of emotion and extra few games. then I’m happy with that as well.”
Stosur will next meet Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, who she beat in straight sets at the French Open last year.
The world No.17 says she is building her game as she looks to avoid a repeat of last year’s second round exit at the Open.
“I don’t feel like I’m playing my best but I certainly don’t feel like I’m far from getting on that roll,” she said.
“I think it’s just a matter of still trying to tighten up those unforced errors.”
Earlier on Monday, Australian Casey Dellacqua downed Belgian qualifier Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4 6-4.
Dellacqua will meet American Alison Riske in the second round.
Another Australian wildcard, Olivia Rogowska, downed Romanian world No.59 Alexandra Cadantu 7-6 (7-5) 6-1.