Rafael Nadal has overcome a first-set wobble to beat former conqueror Fabio Fognini 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1, seven years after a five-set defeat to the Italian in New York.
The US Open second seed and four-times champion at Flushing Meadows, who has not lost before the last 32 since 2004, trailed by a set and 4-2 and was struggling to put the ball in the court during their second-round clash at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"For more than one hour and a half, I was not competing," the 22-times grand slam winner said.
"One of the worst starts, probably, ever."
But, with some help from a similarly wayward opponent, the 36-year-old Spaniard turned things around and finished strongly to set up a clash with Richard Gasquet after the French veteran beat Serbia's 32nd seed Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-4.
In the fourth set, Nadal accidentally bloodied himself on the bridge of the nose after his racquet ricocheted off the court while attempting a backhand and smacked him in the face. Nadal took a medical timeout while a trainer treated him, bandaging the injury.
"Well, just, a little bit dizzy at the begining," Nadal said after wrapping up the win about 20 minutes later.
"A little bit painful."
Earlier on Thursday, Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz fended off a late push from veteran Argentine Federico Coria to emerge a 6-2 6-1 7-5 winner.
Alcaraz, the third seed who saved 14 of the 15 break points he faced in the match, took two and a half hours to secure his 46th victory of 2022.
"It's been a great year for me but it's not the end of the year," Alcaraz said.
"I am very happy to be the player with the most victories but I have to look forward and go for it."
Next up for Alcaraz is a meeting with American Jenson Brooksby, who beat Cincinnati Open champion and 25th seed Borna Coric 6-4 7-6 (12-10) 6-1.
Elsewhere, Cameron Norrie, Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner and Marin Cilic - the seventh, ninth, 11th and 15th seeds - all enjoyed straight-sets wins.
But the No.8 and 17 seeds in Poland's Hubert Hurkacz and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria were eliminated.
With PA and AP.