Naomi Osaka ended a four-match losing run in unfortunate fashion in Tokyo when opponent Daria Saville retired injured in only the second game of the match.
The Australian’s career has been blighted by injury, including long-term knee and Achilles problems, and it is only this year she has returned to the top 100.
Saville yelped in pain after playing a short forehand and collapsed to the court in distress clutching her left knee. She was able to walk away but did not risk continuing, shaking hands with Osaka after only 11 points.
Osaka has had her own injury problems this year with Achilles and back issues and the former world number one had not won a match since the beginning of August.
“I feel really bad right now because of how it ended,” the Japanese player told the fans at Ariake Coliseum.
“I’ve been injured for most of the year so I just want people to clap for her because she’s a really amazing player.”
She will take on Brazilian fifth seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round.
Former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin’s struggles continued with a 7-6 (7) 6-4 defeat by Mexico’s Fernanda Contreras Gomez.
Emma Raducanu begins her Korea Open campaign in Seoul on Wednesday against Japan’s Moyuka Uchijima.
Murray hoping for final chance to play Federer
Andy Murray is hoping he will get a final chance to play with Roger Federer at the Laver Cup next week.
Federer will make the last appearance of his professional career at the Ryder Cup-style event that he invented, which pits Europe against the Rest of the World, at London’s O2 Arena.
Murray, who is six years younger than the Swiss, has played him 25 times, with their first meeting in 2005.
Their most famous matches were in 2012, when Murray tearfully lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final before beating him to Olympic gold on Centre Court a few weeks later, while they also played finals at the Australian and US Open.
Murray said: “Obviously he was an amazing player. I was lucky to get to compete against him in some of the biggest matches, in the biggest tournaments, on the biggest stages in our sport.
“I don’t know how much he will be able to play. I haven’t spoken to him about that. Maybe I get the opportunity to share a court with him in doubles or something like that. That would be really special.”