Rafael Nadal was "super happy" to be back on the court after injury, coming from a set down to beat Rinky Hijikata in the first round of the US Open.
Hijikata raced out to a one-set lead against the 22-time grand slam champion to give him hopes of a major upset.
But the 36-year-old Nadal romped back to win the next three sets and secure safe passage into the next round 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3.
Although Nadal has won the Australian Open and French Open titles this season, he has also suffered with injuries, withdrawing from his Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios with an abdominal problem.
That issue meant he had played just once – in defeat to Borna Coric at the Cincinnati Masters – between the previous major at the All England Club and Tuesday's match at Flushing Meadows.
The lay-off prompted doubts in Nadal's mind, and he was therefore relieved to be back in action.
"It's been a long wait," said Nadal in his on-court interview after the match.
"For some time, I thought I may not be able to be back, so I am super happy. I just have to be humble and accept the process, day after day in practices and matches, and stay positive.
"I think I started not that bad the first couple of games, but then I had some opportunities that I was not able to make.
"I think I didn't play a good game with my serve. Then he had the break. Then I was a little bit nervous. First match here in New York after three years, a night session, it's always exciting. Yeah, I went through this tough moment.
"It's always the same story: things are not perfect when you are not competing very often, when you come back from injury. I am able to play again in two days, and I hope to play better."