US Open 2018: Andy Murray beats James Duckworth on Grand Slam return
Britain's Andy Murray enjoyed a winning return to Grand Slam tennis as he fought back to beat Australia's James Duckworth in the US Open first round.
The 31-year-old won 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-5 6-3 on the new Louis Armstrong Stadium at Flushing Meadows.
It was Murray's first best-of-five-set match in 14 months, having had surgery on a long-term hip injury in January.
The Scot will play Spanish 31st seed Fernando Verdasco in the second round in New York.
"I'm very happy to be back," Murray said.
He has faced a long road to recovery after opting to have surgery, tentatively coming back early this year before deciding he still was not fit enough to play five sets at Wimbledon.
Although he had to pull out of his home Slam with a "heavy heart", making his five-set comeback at Flushing Meadows - where he played in his first major final and won his first Slam four years later in 2012 - was the next best thing.
Walking out on the newly renovated court, Murray received a huge ovation - only bettered by the one which greeted the winning point.
Signs of tension were apparent as he closed in on his first Slam win since beating France's Benoit Paire in the Wimbledon fourth round last year, a double fault at 30-15 in the final game briefly delaying his victory.
But a sharp scamper from the baseline ended in a stretching scoop over the net before a powerful first serve on match point put Duckworth on the back foot.
Murray raised both arms skywards in triumph after Duckworth pumped a forehand into the net, clenching his fist towards his watching team, which included wife Kim.
Following his injury problems, Murray is ranked 382nd in the world and, although the former number one is able to play in the US Open because of his protected ranking, being unseeded left him open to a difficult draw.
However, he was handed an opening opponent in Duckworth who is ranked lower, at 448, after suffering a catalogue of injury problems himself.
Murray was far from his best in the opening set, saving two break points early on before steadying his service game as a tie-break loomed.
Rustiness was evident in the tie-break, though. A routine forehand volley planted into the tramlines gave Duckworth an early lead and then, after fighting back on serve, Murray allowed his opponent to win three straight points for the opening set.
In the build-up, Murray spoke about having to "tough it out" over five sets - and that is exactly what he did.
"At times it was tricky, especially early on," he said.
"James was serving big and playing a lot of drop shots and throwing me out of rhythm, but I managed to play some good stuff at times.
"Then I made a change on the return games - started standing further back to give me more time.
"It allowed me to get into the rallies and that made me more comfortable."