Jessica Pegula said lessons she learned while dealing with injuries early in her career have helped shape her into a player targeting a deep run at the US Open as the world number three.
Now 29, Pegula was languishing outside the top 100 until February 2019, with just one Grand Slam win to her name, her progress stalled by knee and hip injuries which prompted serious soul-searching.
She suffered five successive first-round exits at majors before making the third round of the 2020 US Open, but has since developed into one of the most consistent performers on the women's tour.
Pegula won the WTA 1000 title in Montreal earlier this month and her 42 match wins this year are third most behind Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, the world's top two players.
Her latest came on Tuesday, a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Italy's Camila Giorgi taking Pegula into the second round in New York and a meeting with Romania's Patricia Maria Tig.
"You know, I don't think, if I didn't get injured I don't think I'd be where I am today. That sounds corny and cliche, but it's really true," said Pegula after beating Giorgi for the ninth time in 11 attempts.
"I learned so much from those injuries and when I was hurt that I became, like, I don't know why, but I became obsessed with getting better.
"I just wanted to do everything possible I could to try to make sure that I wouldn't get hurt again. That was my main goal."
"Then I just worked really hard at it. I think I became a lot more confident in who I was around 24 years old," she continued.
"I think I took ownership I think of my career, and I was really, like, this is what I'm going to do. If I mess up it's on me, but this is my decision.
"I think all those things kind of played into my success."
- Happy to share limelight -
Her belated climb towards the top contrasts sharply to that of Coco Gauff, Pegula's doubles partner who shot into the public eye aged 15 when she reached the Wimbledon fourth round in 2019.
Pegula is the higher ranked of the two, but sixth seed Gauff is the one filling many of the column inches as she dreams of continuing Serena Williams' legacy over the next fortnight.
Not that Pegula is one to complain about being overshadowed by the 19-year-old Gauff, who is coming off the biggest title of her career in Cincinnati.
"I don't mind. She's been winning a lot. I think she deserves a lot of that attention. She's obviously very young. She's been playing really well. She's super electric to watch," said Pegula.
"It's nice that even though I am the top American, I can't imagine carrying a ton of pressure if it was only me."
Pegula leads the group of 24 American women who started in the draw and believes the strength in depth can only serve the host nation well.
"It's nice that there is a lot of us that are doing well and that have chances to go deep here," said Pegula, who has made five quarter-finals in the past seven Grand Slams but never gone further.
"I mean, I'd take it, but at the same time it's kind of nice too not feeling like I have to be the one that has to win the US Open when there's six other girls that could do it."