Twelve months ago, Karolina Pliskova was sitting at home, sidelined with a broken arm, when the Australian Open began.
On Tuesday at Melbourne Park, the former World No.1 made a winning return.
On a day where sweltering heat caused play on the outside courts to be suspended, the Czech, seeded No.30, breezed through a 6-1, 6-3 win over China's Wang Xiyu under the roof inside Margaret Court Arena.
It's Pliskova's first main-draw win of 2023, and her 23rd main-draw win at the Australian Open in her career. She last lost in the first round at Melbourne Park in her 2013 debut.
Words from the winner: After hitting 19 winners and breaking Wang's serve four times in 64 minutes, Pliskova said the opportunity to play indoors suited her.
"I think the conditions were a little bit better with the roof. It's still quite humid, but it was pretty hot today, so I was happy that the roof was closed," she said on-court.
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"I have some great memories on this court overall in the last 15 years, since I won the juniors here. ... I missed it last year, so I'm happy to be back this year."
First round is never easy but I'm happy with the way I played and outcome of the match. One down, on to the next we go 💪@AustralianOpen #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/WjuTrhmj7e— Karolina Pliskova (@KaPliskova) January 17, 2023
Kudermetova edges Zanevska
Things were a little more complicated for a current Top 10 player, but No.9 seed Veronika Kudermetova still managed to serve up a Round 1 win. Under the roof in John Cain Arena, Kudermetova defeated Belgian Maryna Zanevska 6-2, 7-6(4) in 97 minutes.
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There were no signs of the left hip injury that forced Kudermetova to withdraw from her scheduled semifinal against Belinda Bencic at the Adelaide International 2 last week.
Highlights: Sabalenka d. Martincova | Mertens d. Muguruza | Townsend d. Parry | Fernandez d. Cornet | Pliskova d. Wang Xiyu | L.Fruhvirtova d. Fourlis | Garcia d. Sebov | Bencic d. Tomova | Jabeur d. Zidansek | Martic d. Golubic | Putintseva d. Cirstea
Kudermetova lost just three points on her serve, breaking Zanevska twice, in the first set, and found her best tennis when she needed it to win in straights. She came from 4-2 down in the second set and also saved two break points at 4-4.
"This win means a lot to me because all of my family was here today to support me," Kudermetova said afterward. "The first set, I played really well. I controlled everything. In the second set, my serve got a little bit worse ... and Maryna, she started to play much better, much faster.
"I tried to do my best, just to fight and keep working. I think this was the key to the match today."
After beating Zanevska in their second-ever meeting, and first in six years, Kudermetova has earned a first career match against American Katie Volynets. Volynets defeated Evgeniya Rodina 6-3, 6-2 for her first Australian Open main-draw win.