ADELAIDE, Australia - Australian star Ajla Tomljanovic gave home fans something to cheer for as main draw play commenced at the Adelaide International, dispatching Kazakh qualifier Yulia Putintseva, 7-6(4), 6-2 to reach the second round as reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep awaits.
Tomljanovic battled from a break down in the opening set and saved two set points to advance in just under two hours on Centre Court.
The Aussie pushed former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova to the brink of defeat at the Brisbane International last week, but had to weather an early storm from the fiery Putintseva, who didn't drop a set through her two matches in qualifying.
"Yeah, not the greatest start," Tomljanovic said after the match. "I don't even think it was nerves. I wasn't too focused at the start. With her, you have to be really sharp, disciplined, but still aggressive. It took me a little bit to find the balance.
"But I think once I got going, it was a battle. I mean, she's always tough. She never gives up. She runs down every ball, really makes you win it. This is a quality win for me."
From 0-3 down in the opening set, Tomljanovic twice faced set point on her serve in the tenth game, saving both and pushing towards a tie-break. Getting the early advantage, the 26-year-old hardly looked back, serving out the set with a fearsome delivery.
"I think winning that first set, she didn't feel great. I think it was an hour and 15. She definitely had her chances. Whoever had won that set, the momentum would have been with the other person that won. I think that's what happened."
The duo exchanged breaks early in the second but it was Tomljanovic who remained in front, getting the better of Putintseva as she edged to a trio of match points in the final game. Putintseva saved the first two but couldn't save the third as the wildcard made it over the finish line.
Awaiting Tomljanovic in the next round is Halep, who will be making her season debut in Adelaide.
"I never look at my second round. I'm like, Whoa, okay, Halep," she laughed. "But I'm up for the challenge. You want to play these matches, play against the top players. Yeah, what a better way than to do it here in Adelaide?"
The two have played twice before - their most recent encounter coming at last year's French Open - with each match going three sets.
"I think any situation you can look at it as good pressure or bad pressure. I choose just to see it as the best thing possible. No matter how bad you're playing, they're going to cheer for you until the next point. All you got to do is just go out there and fight, just do your best really.
"They love that fighting spirit, just to see you give it your all. That goes well with my personality, I think."