Ons Jabeur started her bid for a first Grand Slam title with a straight sets win over American Madison Brengle in the US Open first round on Monday, as the Tunisian fifth seed aims to go one step further than her historic run to the Wimbledon final.
Jabeur, who turned 28 on Sunday, became the first Arab or African woman to reach a major final earlier this summer but was defeated at Wimbledon by Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina, having won the first set.
Jabeur's build-up to the US Open had been far from ideal, with early-round defeats at the Silicon Valley Classic and Cincinnati Masters either side of a retirement in her first match at the Canadian Open. But she looks ready to contend at Flushing Meadows after beating Brengle 7-5, 6-2.
Jabeur claimed the initial advantage in the opening set, after breaks in the first three games, to lead 3-1 before Brengle levelled at 3-3. After successive breaks followed to take the set to 5-5, Jabeur edged out in front at 6-5 and closed out the opener on her second set point.
The second set was more comfortable for the Tunisian, who, having trailed 2-1, won the next five games to seal the victory and move into the second round, where she will face another American in Elizabeth Mandlik.
However, Jabeur will not be joined in the second round by former world No 1 Simona Halep after the Romanian suffered a shock 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 defeat to Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur.
Snigur, 20, showed poise beyond her years to break Halep in the opening game and again in the third as she capitalised on a mounting number of unforced errors from the Romanian.
However, Snigur's form completely fell apart in the second set as Halep stormed through six games in 24 minutes to roars of approval from the crowd at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
But Halep, who won the Canadian Open title for the third time earlier this month before pulling out of Cincinnati with an injury, failed to maintain that momentum as she dropped her serve in the first and fifth games.
The 30-year-old broke Snigur in the eighth game to stay alive and fended off two match points in the next game. But Snigur kept her nerve to seal victory before bursting into tears. She then formed a heart shape with her hands around the Ukrainian ribbon pinned to her shirt.
"I'm very, very, very nervous but I tried to do my best," she said, her voice shaking, in an on-court interview. "For Ukraine, for my family ... I want to say thank you, all."
Also through in the women's draw are 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu, who since her breakthrough triumph has suffered a litany of injury setbacks. The Canadian bounced back from a second-set wobble to beat France's Harmony Tan 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 and will face Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in the next round.
Americans Coco Gauff and Madison Keys also advanced to the second round with straight-sets wins.