Local favourite Casey Dellacqua has powered her way to an impressive 6-2 6-2 victory over former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva from Russia in the opening round of the Australian Open.
The left-handed Dellacqua dominated the match against the 2010 Wimbledon and US Open runner-up, winning in 75 minutes.
Dellacqua has battled foot and shoulder injuries in recent years, while Zvonareva was sidelined for 17 months due to illness and a shoulder injury.
But it was Dellacqua who looked much the sharper on Monday, becoming the first Australian through to the second round, where she will take on Wimbledon semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium.
“I’m stoked,” said Dellacqua.
“I’m shaking because I’m so nervous.
“I just wanted to close it out then and there.”
Dellacqua’s best grand slam singles result came six years ago at Melbourne Park, when she advanced to the fourth round.
But the news was not so good for countrywoman Jarmila Gajdosova, who blew a golden opportunity to break her nine-year duck at the Australian Open as she went down in a three-setter to German ninth seed Angelique Kerber.
Gajdosova, who battled the viral infection mononucleosis for much of 2013, looked the likely winner when she raced through the second set 6-0, despite rolling her left ankle and calling for a nine-minute medical timeout after the opening point.
But she could not keep the momentum going in the decider, allowing Kerber to escape with a 6-3 0-6 6-2 victory.
Gajdosova has never won a singles match at the Australian Open in nine attempts.
Kerber advanced to the final of last week’s Sydney International before being beaten by Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.
Five other Australians play later on Monday, with the other eight taking to the court on Tuesday.