There was mild concern when Angelique Kerber lost in the quarterfinals to Elina Svitolina in Brisbane.
The concern turned to worry when Kerber put in a listless display to lose to Daria Kasatkina in her opening match in Sydney.
And it approached full-blown panic when she missed a match point in the second set and became mired in a three-set slugfest against a game Lesia Tsurenko at Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.
But she survived with a 6-2 5-7 6-2 victory, one that means the world No.1’s Australian Open title defence is off the ground.
“I was actually feeling not bad. From the beginning, I was trying to play my game. I played actually a good match. I was a little bit not playing too good. I make a little bit easy mistakes in the second set, at the end of the second set,” said Kerber, whose last appearance on this court came when she stunned Serena Williams to hoist the 2016 trophy.