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In-form Garbiñe Muguruza continued her torrid run through the summer Down Under with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Margarita Gasparyan in the first round of the Australian Open.
The 2020 runner-up at Melbourne Park and last week's finalist at the Yarra Valley Classic, Muguruza needed just 73 minutes to seal a spot in the second round and improved her first-round record at the Australian Open to 9-0.
"I was excited to start the Grand Slam already after few weeks here on-site and in Melbourne," Muguruza told reporters in her post-match press conference.
"I think [it was] a very positive week. After having the quarantine and training, having an extra tournament to play on the same court, I feel like it was great no matter if I ended up losing the final or not.
"I feel like I did well. I also had many chances on the final. I mean, I think the hard work, it's there, it's showing on the court. I was excited to have this feeling towards a Grand Slam. I felt like I finished the final, and I had a day to train, then I was back on Margaret Court [Arena]."
From 3-3 in the opening set, the No.14 seed motored through nine of the next 10 games against the Russian lucky loser ranked World No.127, never again facing break point after losing an early 3-1 lead.
More from Down Under: Kenin, Svitolina, Gauff advance at Australian Open
The Spaniard's stat line particularly sparkled in the second set, where she lost just three points on serve and made just two unforced errors.
Up next, Muguruza will face Russian Ludmilla Samsonova.
"The first set was a tough battle and I was happy that I could close it at 5-4," Muguruza said on-court after the match. "In the second set, I took the lead a little bit early and played well with my serve. I was more dominating with the second one.
"She's a tough opponent. We played two years ago [a 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-2 win for Muguruza in Monterrey] and it was a three-set match, a very hard battle, so I'm very happy to have won in two sets."
The No.18 seed from Belgium eased past Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez, 6-3, 6-1, while the 20-year-old American made a statement in a 6-2, 6-0 upset against No.31 seed Zhang Shuai of China in just 47 minutes.
In addition, 2020 WTA Newcomer of the Year Nadia Podoroska of Argentina, a quarterfinalist at the Yarra Valley Classic, beat American Christina McHale, 6-4, 6-4, and Gippsland Trophy semifinalist Ekaterina Alexandrova, seeded No.29, eased past Italy's Martina Trevisan, 6-3, 6-4.
World No.45 Podoroska is making her Australian Open main draw debut this year.
Pegula powers to Azarenka upset, first AO win
While Muguruza added a 24th career victory to a solid resume Down Under, American Jessica Pegula secured her first.
Playing in her second main draw at Melbourne Park — in her fourth trip overall — the 26-year-old American upset No.13 seed Victoria Azarenka, 7-5, 6-4.
The 2019 Citi Open champion came from 5-2 down in the opening set and saved a set point to secure her fourth career Top 20 victory, and best in terms of ranking since she defeated then-World No.11 Aryna Sabalenka at the Western and Southern Open last year.
Behind six aces and 24 winners, Pegula had the edge across the board against the former World No.1 by the time the match ended — as the Belarusian was undone by 25 unforced errors and seven double faults.
"I am disappointed that I wasn't able to perform that I knew I could. That's a bit hard to accept today because I knew I can play better, a lot better," Azarenka said in defeat.
"At the same time I feel that I've tried everything I can to be able to be prepared, but unfortunately that hasn't worked out for me.
"Going into a Grand Slam, or a tournament, it's like, 'Okay, I'll have to do the best I can with what I have.' That was my mentality. Today I felt that I've done that to the best of my ability, also mentally.
"But it didn't work out. I felt like things were just not connecting."