Returning Australian tennis star Daria Saville is taking heart after dragging world No.1 Iga Swiatek out of her comfort zone in a spirited US Open display in New York.
True to her word, Saville frustrated Swiatek with her relentless retrieving and crafty tactics before bowing out with a gallant 6-3 6-4 second-round loss on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Saville only resumed playing in June after nine months out recovering from a torn ACL.
But the one-time top-20 star defied her ranking of No.322 in the world to put the defending champion through the ringer, driving Swiatek mad at times with clever drop shots, lobs and moon balls.
She drew 22 unforced errors from the top seed, with Swiatek even hit with a time violation after exceeding the shot clock trying to serve out the match after one particularly lung-busting rally to bring up match point.
"For sure it wasn't easy," Swiatek said after extending her Flushing Meadows streak to nine wins and booking a date on Friday with Slovenia's world No.145 Kaja Juvan for a spot in the last 16.
"The rhythm of the match was really weird so I'm happy that I just tried to play my game and play aggressively with a lot of tenacity.
"I'm just happy to be in the third round."
Swiatek dropped only one game in her opening match but Saville delivered on her promise to "get in her head".
She broke the Pole at her first try and had the top seed on the back foot from the outset.
But the 29-year-old ultimately paid the price for a lack of second-serve firepower.
She won only one point from 18 after failing to land her first serve, enabling Swiatek to break her three times and eventually close out the contest after 93 minutes.
"I'm proud of myself but also disappointed," Saville said.
"But I'm not delusional. I'm still just coming back and it just gives me so much confidence that I did all that rehab for a reason and I can come back to a pretty good level.
"I enjoyed being out there on a big court playing against a No.1 in the world and entertaining the crowd.
"This just gives me motivation for the back end of the season. I am going to China and playing a lot of 250s there back to back and hopefully get my ranking back up."
Saville's departure and Ajla Tomljanovic's withdrawal just hours before her scheduled second-round meeting with fourth-seeded Australian Open runner-up Elena Rybakina ended Australia's hopes in the women's singles.
A quarter-finalist last year, Tomljanovic was unable to back up from her gruelling first-round win over Panna Udvardy.
Tomljanovic's emotion-charged 3-6 6-2 6-4 victory over the Hungarian was her first match in nine months after undergoing surgery in January, also for a serious knee injury, but she cited an issue with her right arm as the reason for her scratching.
Wildcard Rinky Hijikata was the only Australian in men's action on day three and crushed unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-1 6-2 6-1 to advance to a grand slam third round for the first time.
The 22-year-old's reward is a third-round tussle with unseeded Chinese Zhizhen Zhang.
Fellow Australians Chris O'Connell, up against third-seeded 2021 Open champion Daniil Medvedev, and world No.13 Alex de Minaur, taking on Yibing Wu, play their second-round matches on Friday (AEST).