Defending champion David Palmer launched the defence of his British Open title with what was, ultimately, a resounding victory over Joey Barrington; but there were moments when the first real upset of the tournament looked a possibility.
The record will show the Australian world No 3 and third seed beat Barrington 11-10 (4-2), 8-11, 11-3, 11-8 in 53 minutes but the figures belie a thrilling encounter that proved a battle between two of the fittest men in squash.
World No 31 Barrington, who plays for Birmingham University in the Premier League, pushed Palmer hard for two games before the champion started to impose himself. Palmer spoke of his sluggish start, saying: "I felt a bit flat to start with, not as alert as I should have been. I was waiting for it to happen, instead of making it happen, but I got through and that is what counts."
Palmer faces Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee in the second round tomorrow. Ong, seeded 15, came back from a game down to beat England's Simon Parke 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 in 58 minutes.
Barrington, watched by his legendary father Jonah, said: "It was a pretty close call. I could have won the first game and won the second, but my length dropped quite a lot and I got a bit drained.
"I'm starting to enjoy my game much more and I'm also starting to understand the game better. Today, I gave the British Open, former world champion and former world no1 a good run for his money."
Barrington senior, a sixtime winner of this prestigious tournament who is a regular supporter of Joey from behind the glass-back, said: "It is the third time I came to see Joey play and the first two times he really played appallingly; today, he played like he knew that he could.
"Joey now knows what he wants to do on the court. He is not just a running machine. The racket is becoming a friend to him."
Top seed Thierry Lincou, of France, booked a second-round clash with Wolverhampton league player Alex Gough after beating qualifier Stacey Ross 11-8, 11-8, 11-5.
Welshman Gough fought back after losing his opening game against Australian Joseph Kneipp to win 4-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-5.
Gough's Wolverhampton Premier League teammate Shahid Zaman beat Ben Garner, of England, 11-9, 8-11, 11-3, 5-11, 11-6, the 14th seed taking advantage of Garner's gruelling qualifying match to make the first round proper.
Zaman, the Pakistani world No 16, now faces Peter Nicol, the fifth seed and twice a winner of the British Open, who required just 26 minutes to beat France's Laurence Delasaux 11-6, 11-6, 11-2.
Palmer's Edgbaston Priory team-mate, Stewart Boswell, received an unexpected extra day's rest before his match against 16th seed Mansoor Zaman after a fire in the neighbouring building - the English Institute of Sport's indoor arena - forced play to be abandoned.
The blaze in a plant room caused a powercut in Manchester's SportCity, interrupting Lee Beachill's match against Phillip Barker. The men's action will resume today at 6pm.