New York: Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro made a winning return to the US Open on Wednesday, reaching the second round in his first match at Flushing Meadows since he lifted the trophy two years ago.
Del Potro defeated Italian Filippo Volandri 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
"I feel really glad," said the 22-year-old South American, who scored the biggest scalp of his career in 2009 when he beat Roger Federer in a fifth set for the US Open crown.
He then missed much of the 2010 season due to a wrist injury that required surgery and has been labouring over the past half year or more to return to the tennis elite.
"It was a short match," the number 18 said of his victory over Volandri, who has not won a Grand Slam match since 2007. "I served well, I improved my game during the match."
Del Potro hammered 18 aces and 38 winners, breaking his hapless 85th-ranked opponent seven of 14 times in less than 90 minutes.
Del Potro extended his Flushing Meadows win streak to eight straight matches, with his last defeat here coming in the 2008 quarter-finals to Andy Murray.
Del Potro was clearly thrilled to be back at his favourite venue and playing in front of the traditionally lively New York crowd.
"I'm so happy to be playing here after my win, it's special. This is my favourite tournament, so I'm really happy to have the opportunity to play here again."
Del Potro can now recall how hard it was for him to miss what would have been his title defence a year ago as he recovered from the operation on his right wrist.
"I'm feeling very special these couple of days, because I wasn't here last year so I couldn't see my name in the locker room," said the former champion. "It's an honour to be part of the champions of this tournament.
"I really enjoy the crowd, the fans are crazy, they are very excited."
The crowds, he said, "help me to fight. I remember in the final two years ago when I was two sets to one down and the crowd helped me.
"They started cheering more for me than Roger, that helped me a lot to win the final."
Though wrist injuries are among the most dangerous in tennis, del Potro is satisfied that his recovery is nearing completion.
"When the weather is very humid I feel (the wrist), but nothing dangerous. I'm playing on all surfaces this year and I'm doing well this season.
"I'm very glad just to be playing," he added. "Hopefully next year I will be ready (among) the top-10 players. I don't know if I'm going to be there, but I will try."
The Argentine will face his next test against compatriot Diego Junqueira in the third round.