PARIS (Reuters) -World number one Ash Barty fought through a hip injury and a tricky opponent in American Bernarda Pera with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory on her return to the French Open on Tuesday.
Returning to the Philippe Chatrier court for the first time since her maiden Grand Slam win in 2019, the 25-year-old Australian seemed to be cruising against the 70th-ranked Pera when she was up 5-2 in the opening set.
But an injury seemed to start bothering Barty, who skipped the claycourt Grand Slam last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as her movement appeared restricted.
"It's going to be a little bit tough this week," Barty told reporters.
"I think over the weekend we had a bit of a flare-up through my left hip, which obviously just needed a bit of help today, needed some assistance to try and release it off as best I could.
"But, no, I think we were able to fight through, able to give ourself a chance to play again the next round."
Barty managed to close out the opening set in her first meeting against the American but Pera's confidence grew and she managed to raise her level to level the match.
The Australian, who retired from the quarter-finals in Rome last month due to problems in her right arm, improved after receiving medical treatment on her back before the deciding set.
She then broke Pera's serve twice to close out the win in two hours and set up a second-round meeting against either Magda Linette of Poland or French wildcard Chloe Paquet.
"I'm not going to hide behind the fact I'm not quite 100% but I can guarantee that I will go out there with the right attitude every day and be really accepting of that and give it a crack no matter what," she added.
"I just have been working with my team as best that I can and trusting them. Like I said, they know my body back to front, inside and out, and they know I have full trust in them.
"We're here, we're fighting, we're in with a chance and that's all we can do."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Berhampore, India; editing by Christian Radnedge)