(Reuters) - Australian Sam Stosur narrowly avoided another disappointment on home turf as she battled through a wrist injury and three tough sets to claim an opening victory at the Brisbane International on Monday.
The former U.S. Open champion recovered from 0-3 down in the final set to record a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory over Slovakian qualifier Jana Cepelova to kick off her always intense Australian summer in positive style.
The 31-year-old has frequently failed to hit the heights on home turf, having never won a tournament or progressed past the fourth round at the Australian Open, and bemoaned on Sunday the unfair emphasis she received for her domestic form.
The world number 27 looked set to give the critics another stick to beat her with before a spirited effort did for the world number 147 and set up a second-round clash with Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro on Tuesday.
"I am really pleased to walk away with a win, especially being down in that third set and then find that ability to come back and play well and win it when you are down, to turn things around," Stosur said.
"There were lots of positives I could take out of that."
Stosur needed treatment for a wrist problem midway through the second set but was not overly concerned about the injury.
"I'm not freaking out about it," said the right-hander, winner of eight WTA titles.
"I need to go see my physio and do whatever we need to do tonight.
"Then tomorrow playing night match there is that little bit of extra time if it is a bit sore. I'm sure we'll come up with a plan and be out on court ready to go."
Italy's Roberto Vinci, who ended Serena Williams' bid for a calendar grand slam at the U.S. Open semi-finals last year, also needed three tough sets to make the second round on the Brisbane hard courts.
The 32-year-old prevailed 3-6 6-2 6-4 over former world number one Jelena Jankovic, while Germany's world number 10 Angelique Kerber shook off the rust in a 5-7 6-3 6-0 victory over Camila Giorgi of Italy.
Russian Maria Sharapova is the tournament draw card and she will kick off her campaign on Tuesday against compatriot Ekaterina Makarova. On the men's side, 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer will play Germany's Tobias Kamke.
Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov had been touted as 'Baby Fed' but a disappointing 2015 season quelled those comparisons with the Swiss great.
The Bulgarian, who has slumped from eighth to 28th in the rankings, started his new campaign in more upbeat fashion by recording a 6-3 7-6(10) win over fifth seed Gilles Simon of France.
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)