NEW YORK — So much about Maria Sharapova was the same as it ever was during her first Grand Slam match since a 15-month doping suspension: the shot-punctuating shrieks, the aggressive baseline style, the terrific returning, the sometimes shaky serving.

Another familiar sight: The five-time major champion gutted out a victory.

Sharapova recovered after faltering midway through the match and emerged to beat No. 2-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at the U.S. Open on Monday night to reach the second round.

“This girl has a lot of grit and she’s not going anywhere,” Sharapova said.

After leading by a set and 4-1 in the second, Sharapova showed some fatigue and rust, dropping five straight games. But in the third, Sharapova regained control by going ahead 3-0, using her power to keep the two-time French Open runner-up Halep under pressure.

Sharapova hadn’t played at a Grand Slam tournament since January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned heart drug meldonium during the Australian Open. It was as if every one of Sharapova’s winners – and she compiled 60, 45 more than Halep – was her way of declaring, “I’m back!”

When a Halep shot sailed long to end the match after more than two hours, Sharapova dropped to her knees, then covered her face as her eyes welled with tears.

“I just thought that was another day, another opportunity, another match,” Sharapova said. “But this was so much more. I tried not to think about it.”

Sharapova, 30, was allowed back on the tour this April but was denied a wild-card invitation for the French Open the next month. The U.S. Tennis Association did grant a wild card to Sharapova, who was once ranked No. 1 but is now 146th.

That’s 144 spots below Halep, who is among eight women who entered the U.S. Open with a chance to top the WTA rankings by tournament’s end. The draw randomly paired the two players, providing a buzz-generating matchup that managed to live up to the hype on Day 1.

It was a tremendously entertaining and high-quality contest, more befitting a final than a first-rounder.

These two women have, indeed, faced off with a Grand Slam title at stake: Sharapova beat Halep in the 2014 French Open final, part of what is now her 7-0 head-to-head record in the matchup.

Earlier Monday, seven-time major champion Venus Williams picked up a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory against Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, a 19-year-old qualifier who is ranked 135th, joining past Wimbledon winners Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova in the second round.

But No. 7 seed Johanna Konta, a Wimbledon semifinalist just last month, was bounced by 78th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“I don’t take anything for granted,” Konta said. “I think it would be quite obnoxious of me to come in here expecting I have a right to be in a second week.”

And in another surprise, 13th-seeded Jack Sock of the United States was eliminated 6-2, 7-6 (12), 1-6, 5-7, 6-4 by 73rd-ranked Jordan Thompson of Australia.