It was too close for comfort, but Petra Kvitova showed nerves of steel to survive her first-round match against Veronica Cepede Royg at Roland Garros on Monday.
Kvitova, who suffered career-threatening injuries on her playing hand following an attack in her home by a knife-wielding intruder in December 2016, came into the match full of confidence after winning her last 11 matches.
But she found herself in real trouble against her little-known opponent and came within three points of defeat before rallying late in the third set.
After Cepede Royg surprised all by taking the first via a solitary break of serve, normal service appeared to resume as Kvitova hit back strongly in the second, racing through it 6-1 in 32 minutes to level the scores.
But Cepede Royg fought back impressively and found herself with a 5-4 and 0-15 lead in the third set before Kvitova unleashed three consecutive aces to neutralise the danger.
She would break the very next game before serving out the match and raising her fist in celebration.
Kvitova moves on to face Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena in the second round.
In other early results on Monday, former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka was beaten 7-5, 7-5 by Katerina Siniakova as her tournament came to an early conclusion.
After dropping the first set via a single break, Azarenka broke Siniakov’s serve three times during the second set, only to immediately give her advantage away each time.
It seemed like Siniakova had an answer for everything Azarenka threw at her, and she soon wrapped up the result to earn herself a place in the second round.
Q. In your own mind, do you think you can return to the very top again?
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) 28 May 2018
Japan’s Naomi Osaka was also in action, taking just 76 minutes to dispatch Sofia Kenin 6-2, 7-5.
Stream every match at Roland Garros live on the FOX+ app and catch up on highlights of any action you’ve missed. For more info on FOX+ click here or to start your *free 30 day trial download the FOX+ app. * FOX+ is available in select territories