Simona Halep has won her first competitive match since her French Open shock exit in October, defeating Anastasia Potapova in her Gippsland Trophy opener in Melbourne.
The Romanian was knocked out in the fourth round by Iga Swiatek, then a little-known teenager, who went on to win the tournament. Halep had been the favourite for the title.
On her return to action, the Wimbledon champion was untroubled, beating her Russian opponent 6-4, 6-4.
"I needed this victory, because I didn’t play an official match since October of last year, so it’s been a long time," Halep said, during her on-court post-match interview.
I just wanted to feel the court, feel the game. I knew that it was going to be a difficult match, [Potapova] hits very strong.
"It was not easy, but I tried my best, and I’m happy to go through."
Halep is joined in the third round by a host of stars, with fellow star Elina Svitolina racing past Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 6-4.
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"It was exciting," The Ukrainian added.
I knew that [Petkovic] had already won a match here, so I knew that she would come and be really ready straight away, game-ready.
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Elsewhere, Coco Gauff bounced back from her early exit at the hands of Maria Sakkari in Abu Dhabi, squeezing past Jil Teichmann 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-6(5).
The teenage American will face Britain's Katie Boulter in the next round after she cruised past Anna Kalinskaya 6-1, 6-3.
Halep faces Laura Siegemund, who beat Monica Niculescu 7-5, 6-4.
Finally, there were wins for Alize Cornet, Mayo Hibi, Destanee Aiava, Jasmine Paolini, Jelena Ostapenko, Ekaterina Alexandrova, and Karolina Muchova.
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