PALERMO, Italy - Top seed Petra Martic needed just over an hour to win her first WTA match in almost five months after taking down Alison Van Uytvanck in straight sets at the 31st Palermo Ladies Open.

Before the lockdown stopped the tennis season, Martic had reached a semifinal at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, backing up a breakthrough 2019 year that saw her win a title in Istanbul and make her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance at Roland Garros. 

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“I think I felt my nerves a little bit more, because the break was so long,” Martic told press via video chat. “It’s such a big uncertainty going on the court not knowing how you’re going to be.

“I played well before the break, so I was happy with the rhythm, but obviously five months off disrupts everything. Once the match started, I kind of let go and just played.”

Photo by Jimmie48 Photography/WTA

 Martic showed off her clay court prowess against Van Uytvanck, dominating the first set and closing out the match in a decisive 6-0, 6-3 victory to win in one hour and five minutes on court. 

“I didn’t expect [that score], I didn’t expect anything,” Martic said in her post-match press conference. “That was the main goal today, because it’s been such a long break and I don’t think anyone knows what to expect when the real match comes. Practice is so different from this.

2020 Palermo highlights: Martic kicks off campaign with Van Uytvanck win

“Today I just focused on my game, and I tried to enjoy the fact that we are back on court again. And I think I managed both."

 The Croatian player will face Liudmila Samsonova in the second round in Palermo. The Russian qualifier upset Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-2 earlier in the day to advance.