Murray hadn't played in a Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon last year, before needing hip surgery that has limited him to just eight matches this year. Wawrinka, the former world number three, now down at 101, shrugged off having to take a medical time-out early in the third set.
Murray moved better and better as his match with Duckworth went on, though it was clear to see he is some distance away from where he would like to be, especially when drawn out wide on the forehand side.
"But I've got no injury concerns, which is nice".
The two lowest-ranked players in the men's draw will clash on Louis Armstrong Stadium in a first-round battle that will be closely observed by the whole tournament.
Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson won a 5-set thriller 7-6, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 against Ryan Harrison.
The three-time slam victor, now ranked at 101, followed up his quarter-final run at the Cincinnati Masters with a strong showing against the Bulgarian, who he defeated in the first round of a grand slam for the second time running.
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Pina told the I-TEAM that Landing management knows there's a security problem, but said they've not done enough to fix it. Elizabeth Katz said her youngest son had increasing difficulty concentrating following his parents' split.
After losing the first set, an early break at the start of the second set, in the third game, settled him down and he broke again in the eighth game as he levelled the match at one set apiece. Ferrer, 36, will play his last tournament on home ground in Madrid next year.
To close out the inaugural nighttime card on Louis Armstrong, No. 3 seed Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion and perennial crowd favorite, made quick work of one-time American wunderkind Donald Young, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
There was a major shock in the women's singles first round after world No.1 Simona Halep was sent crashing out 6-2 6-4 by Kaia Kanepi.
Murray is adamant he does not consider himself a title contender at Flushing Meadows this year, however, and a first-round victory isn't about to change that. This is my last Grand Slam. The Australian recorded 64 unforced errors to 50 winners against the 2012 Olympic champion, who was far steadier with 31 winners to 29 miscues.
The Scot said: "I've lost a lot of matches out here over the years, I've struggled a lot, but it's like a new beginning".
Defending champion Sloane Stephens, the third seed behind Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, defeated Evgeniya Rodina of Russian Federation 6-1, 7-5, while Belgian Elise Mertens beat Japan's Kurumi Nara 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5.