Andreescu survives tough US Open battle

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Former champion Bianca Andreescu overcame stomach pain and a stiff challenge from Viktorija Golubic to advance 7-5 4-6 7-5 into the second round of the US Open.

The 21-year-old, making her return to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time since she won the tournament in 2019, got all she could handle from the Swiss in the nearly three-hour affair on a hot and humid night in New York.

But the sixth-seeded Andreescu's seven aces and punishing groundstrokes ultimately proved too much for Golubic.

The Canadian yelled "Come on" and pumped her fist after Golubic sent a forehand wide on match point to seal the win.

Few knew what to expect from Andreescu coming into the year's final grand slam tournament.

After defeating Serena Williams in the 2019 final, Andreescu's 2020 grand slam campaign was written off by injury and sickness that included everything from tearing the meniscus in her left knee to testing positive for COVID-19.

This year, she has managed just one win at a grand slam tournament - a first-round victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu at this year's Australian Open.

That was followed by first-round exits at both the French Open and Wimbledon.

"It's definitely emotional," Andreescu said in an on-court interview after the match.

"I didn't play here last year and I honestly didn't play anything in 2020. I've been struggling a lot this past year so for me, I'm just thinking about all those struggles and how it's all worth it.

"Winning on this court again is just incredible."

Andreescu needed a medical time out midway through the second set to attend to an upset stomach, but said it turned out to be fine.

"My food was just rumbling in my stomach and I felt like I had to throw up, which is random because I ate like, five hours ago," she said.

"It was totally fine after a couple games but it was a little tough."

Earlier, world No.4 Karolina Pliskova fired off eight aces to defeat American wildcard Caty McNally in straight sets and cruise into the next round.

Czech Pliskova - seeking an elusive maiden grand slam victory - brushed aside McNally 6-3 6-4.

Pliskova - the 2016 US Open runner-up - built a 5-1 lead in the first set against her nervous 19-year-old opponent.

The fourth seed hit 10 winners in the first set compared to McNally's two before breaking the American's serve twice early in the second.

McNally, who made it to the third round at Flushing Meadows a year ago, bounced back to level the score at 3-3 with the crowd in Louis Armstrong Stadium cheering her on.

But she could not match Pliskova's power as the Czech closed out the match with a pair of aces.

"I started really well then lost my focus a little bit at the end of the first set," said Pliskova, who lost to world No.1 Ash Barty in the Wimbledon final earlier this year.

"She played (at) a really good level. She has a good future."

Olympic champion Belinda Bencic breezed past Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 6-4 6-4 to advance.

Bencic - the 11th seed - reached the US Open semi-finals in 2019 but sat out last year's tournament amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I kind of achieved my dream in Tokyo. I'm so kind of happy and I'm sure it was my proudest moment which I will ever achieve," said Bencic.

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