Andy Murray recovered from two sets down to beat Yoshihito Nishioka in an epic five-set US Open first round encounter.
The 2012 champion prevailed 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 in a four-hour, 39-minute contest on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It was Murray’s first Grand Slam singles outing since his five-set loss to Roberto Bautista Agut in the 2019 Australian Open first round.
His last major win was a four-set opening round triumph over James Duckworth at the 2018 US Open.
In the first set, Nishioka broke for 4-3 after saving two break points to hold for 2-2.
The Japanese left-hander closed out the opener and carried his momentum into the second – racing to a 4-0 lead.
Murray fought back and recovered a break, but could not prevent Nishioka from taking a 2-0 sets lead.
The three-time Grand Slam champion then lost his serve in the opening game of the third set on a double fault – though hawk-eye showed his second serve was in.
While Murray can never be written off, he looked down and out at 1-3 as he struggled in all areas of his game, while his opponent was unwavering.
Murray had been unable to settle on a strategy to employ against Nishioka – who possesses a mix of great court coverage, a powerful forehand and an effective, consistent serve.
The world #115 responded, though, as he broke back for 3-3.
Murray then saved three break points on his way to forcing a tiebreak – which he claimed 7-5.
He carried his raised level into the fourth set and displayed more resilience to reach 5-6 – saving four break points en route.
Nishioka, however, lost just four points on serve and reached match point at advantage on Murray’s serve.
The Brit saved it with an unreturnable first serve and made it to another tiebreak – which he took 7-4.
Nishioka took control again in the fifth set, breaking for 3-2 after a Murray double fault.
The world #49 had not faced a break point in his last 11 service games, but Murray broke him to 15 in the next game for 3-3.
Then, after three holds, Murray earned a match point of his own with Nishioka serving at 4-5, 40-40 – by firing a brilliant backhand cross-court winner.
The Brit completed a monumental comeback when Nishioka sent a stretching backhand overhead long after Murray’s forehand topspin lob.
Landing more first serves – and dictating points straight after his serve with aggressive forehands – were crucial to Murray’s revival.
Murray will face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round after the world #21 edged past Thiago Monteiro in four sets.
It will be Murray’s first meeting with the 20-year-old Canadian and should be an intriguing contest if he can recover well physically.