Andy Murray battled from two sets behind to win a US Open thriller but had eyes on only one place at Flushing Meadows - the emergency ice bath.
The former world No.1 toppled Yoshihito Nishioka in a five-set epic in his first Grand Slam appearance since January 2019 having twice gone under the knife for career-saving hip surgery.
World No.49 Nishioka took the first two sets 6-4, 6-4 but the 2012 champion showed all his resilience to restore parity, before winning the decider 6-4 to cap an emotional return.
Murray’s fitness has been the subject of intense debate and after a performance for the ages in New York, the Scot insisted emergency measures were called for.
“I need an emergency ice bath!” Murray, 33, said.
"They have an ice bath in the locker room and they said it was for emergencies. For me this is an emergency right now.
“I'll ask and see if they'll allow me to use the ice bath. If not I'll try to get back to the hotel as quickly as I can.
"That's by far the most tennis I've played since the Aussie Open in 2019.
"I'm tired. My toes are the worst part I think. The big toes on both sides are pretty beat up. I did alright physically.
"At the beginning of the match I was apprehensive about playing a long match because I hadn't played one in a while.
"I was sort of pacing myself. Once I got two sets down I had to start putting the after-burners on and managed to get through.”
Murray was forced to do things the hard way in the Big Apple, starting slowly in a flat opening two sets as Japanese player Nishioka raced into a 2-0 lead.
But the three-time Grand Slam champion is renowned for his grit and battled admirably on the speedy hard courts, reducing the deficit with a gutsy 7-5 win in the third set tie-break.
And the pair were soon heading for a decider as the world No.115 took the fourth set tie-break 7-4 with a brilliant display.
The fifth was a helter-skelter affair but Murray, supported by coach Jamie Delgado in the empty stands of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, triumphed 6-4 to spark memorable scenes.
Murray has not played a Grand Slam since the 2019 Australian Open after suffering a recurring hip injury, twice undergoing surgery and contemplating retirement before targeting a top level return.
But his win here sealed his reemergence on the big stage and sent out a statement of intent to his rivals before his second round clash against 15th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.
World No.13 Johanna Konta also came through her first round duel in the women’s draw, beating Heather Watson 7-6, 6-1 in the battle of the Brits.
A first round win for @JohannaKonta in the battle of the Brits! 🇬🇧— Team GB (@TeamGB) September 1, 2020
The No.9 seed beats @HeatherWatson92 7-6, 6-1 to book her place in the second round of the #UsOpen
How far can she go at Flushing Meadows? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/4bK3gTZAm4
Watson made the ninth seed work hard during the opening set before Konta took the tie-break 9-7, with the three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist then racing away to book her place in the second round.
And British No.1 Dan Evans also triumphed in his opening round match, beating Brazilian player Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 to cap a memorable night for the British contingent.
Evans is the current world No.31 and showed all his composure in New York, as he bids to progress past the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career.
Evans and Konta dazzled but it was all about Murray on Tuesday, who rolled back the years in style to win a landmark first Grand Slam match for two years.