Sofia Kenin’s court time was cut short but the American still relished a return to the scene of her grand slam triumph at Melbourne Park.
Playing her first match at Melbourne Park since claiming her maiden major last January, Kenin won the first set 7-5 against Camilla Giorgi in their WTA lead-in tournament before the Italian retired with a leg injury.
Kenin said she would have liked more time on court but would happily take the win.
She next faces fellow American Jessica Pegula in the third round.
“I’m happy with the win, the way I played,” the world No.4 said.
“I started off pretty good obviously, just made a little bit too many unforced errors … overall I’m happy with the way I played.”
While there was no Wimbledon and some players like world No.1 Ash Barty opted not to travel during the peak of the pandemic, Kenin collected more match wins at grand slam events last year than any other woman.
She reached the final at the delayed French Open, losing to first-time victor Iga Swiatek and said that performance took the pressure off.
“Definitely – I feel like that was good from my end and also the US Open fourth round, which is obviously better than I did there before,” the 22-year-old said.
“I think the French is good and it gives me some air to breathe because after you win a grand slam people are going to be looking at you.”
There was just a smattering of fans at Margaret Court Arena for the early match – a far different scene than the packed house for her triumph in the final over Garbine Muguruza last year.
Kenin predicted she would get emotional when the crowds pile in next week for the Open, which starts on February 8, with 30,000 permitted each day.
“I feel like it’s going to be a little bit of a rollercoaster next Monday or Tuesday, whenever I play,” she said.
“I feel like you guys, the fans, will see a little bit more emotions.
“Now it’s a little bit quiet, trying to get into the rhythm, but I’ll somehow have to figure out a way to handle nerves for next week.”