Cape Town - While he refuses to get ahead of himself, Andy Murray admitted it felt great to be back winning matches at Grand Slams.
The Scotsman returned to the Grand Slam cauldron for the first time since Wimbledon last summer and his hip surgery in January with a 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-5 6-3 victory over James Duckworth.
Murray is adamant he does not consider himself a title contender at Flushing Meadows this year, however, and a first-round victory isn't about to change that.
"(To be a contender) I would have been able to train and practice a lot more than what I have done," he said. "I would have played more matches in the build-up to the tournament. There's many, many things that I would have wanted to change to be considered a contender.
"I don't think anything changes after today. I'm still just taking it one match at a time. This is the first time I have played four sets in 14 months, so I just have to wait and see how I pull up tomorrow. Hopefully I feel good, and take it from there."
It wasn't all smooth sailing against Duckworth. After dropping the first set in a tie-break, it was always going to be a tough day for Murray, although he did very well from that point on to gradually gain ascendance and ultimately grind Duckworth down in four sets.
"At times it was tricky especially early on, it was very lively, very hot," Murray said. "James was serving big and playing a lot of drop shots, throwing me off rhythm. I was happy I managed to get through that and play some good stuff at times.
"I've lost a lot of matches out here over the years, I've struggled a lot, but it's like a new beginning. It was beautiful, a great atmosphere and I'm very, very happy to be back."
There had been doubts about Murray's participation at the US Open, but after coming through three tough matches in Washington earlier this month, he is confident he can handle the physical challenge.
"The discomfort I have been feeling in my hip was a lot better than it was over the grass-court season," Murray added.
"I've got a bunch of matches under my belt, a lot more training and just a better understanding of where my body is at."