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‘A lot of emotions’: WTA players tune-up for Open after quarantine

“It’s about getting through the Aussie summer and then after that, it is hard to know, given we are still going to need to quarantine if we want to come home,” Stosur said. “It makes it tough to make a schedule given the family circumstances now.

“Ten years ago I’d jump on a plane and not come back for a year but I am not in a position to do that at the moment.“

Sam Stosur plays a backhand in her straight-sets defeat to Marie Bouzkova at the Yarra Valley Classic.

Sam Stosur plays a backhand in her straight-sets defeat to Marie Bouzkova at the Yarra Valley Classic.Credit:Getty

Gavrilova, ranked 451 and playing as a wildcard, won her first match on home soil since 2019, easing past Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova 6-2, 6-0.

The 26-year-old made a return at WTA level at last year’s French Open after missing a full year with injury. She will face 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams in the second round after Williams had a first-round bye.

“I’ve seen her training on Instagram,” Gavrilova said in a courtside interview. “She doesn’t look rusty at all.“

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Venus Williams, the oldest player in the tournament at 40, took only 65 minutes to beat Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-3 in her first-round match.

Australia’s World No. 1, Ashleigh Barty, had a first-round bye in the singles but combined with Jennifer Brady of the United States to win her doubles opener.

“It’s exciting for all of tennis to be back and getting a few matches hopefully under my belt before [the Australian Open] starts would be good,” Barty said. “It’s an adjustment, but come the Australian Open the crowds will be here and there’s going to be a really nice vibe.”

Former Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins of the United States, seeded 13th, beat Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure 6-3, 6-3 in just over 75 minutes. Fellow American Shelby Rogers joined Collins in the second round with 6-2, 7-5 win over No.12 seed Fiona Ferro.

The Yarra Valley Classic and the Gippsland Open, being played concurrently at Melbourne Park, are the first WTA tournaments of the season for most players who have just emerged from quarantine ahead of the Australian Open.

Daria Gavrilova serves against Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia.

Daria Gavrilova serves against Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia.Credit:Getty

The 2017 French Open champion Jelana Ostapenko of Latvia, seeded 13th, beat Sara Errani of Italy 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, in a first-round match between former top-five ranked players in the Gippsland Trophy.

Caroline Garcia of France, seeded 12th, launched her season with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Australian wildcard Arina Rodionova.

“It was a lot of emotions to get back on court, finally,” Garcia said. “I tried to stay very calm and play one point at a time and I think I improved during the match so that’s the most positive thing about today.“

Kaia Kanepi of Estonia fought back from the brink of defeat to beat another Australian wildcard, Astra Sharma, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 after being two points from defeat at 1-6, 3-5.

AP

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