WTA Yarra Valley Classic: Serena Williams beats Gavrilova as Karolina Pliskova makes strong start
Serena Williams has won her first match after a four-month break from tennis, defeating Daria Gavrilova at the WTA's Yarra Valley Classic tournament, which takes place at Melbourne Park ahead of the Australian Open next week. There was also a win for third seed Karolina Pliskova, but ninth seed Donna Vekic was eliminated.
Serena Williams of the US reacts on a point against Australia's Daria Gavrilova during their Yarra Valley Classic women's singles tennis match in Melbourne on February 1, 2021.
"It feels good to be back here," she said in her post-match press conference
I felt I was definitely composed and in a zone and trying to do the things I've been working on
"It was a good match for me. It wasn't easy at all. It was lots of rallies and lots of movement, and she's from here, so she obviously always plays hard.
"So it was really good and it felt good to clinch that in the end."
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Williams was not the only big name to record a win, with Karolina Pliskova defeating Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-3, 6-2.
"I feel like I need some matches so I'm definitely happy that I'm through to the next round," the Czech said after the match.
I felt like I did a good job in the second set especially... and as the match went on, I felt I was playing better and better. I just need to find the rhythm again of playing tournaments and I thought it was a good start.
Pliskova's win sets up a meeting with Danielle Collins, who overcame Nina Stojanovic 6-2, 6-1. Vera Zvonareva defeated Pliskova's twin sister Kristyna 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, Marketa Vondrousova beat Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-0.
In an intriguing match-up, Pironkova saw off Donna Vekic 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, Alison van Uytvanck recorded a convincing 6-2, 6-0 win over Hsieh Su-wei and there were straight-sets wins for Nadia Podoroska, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Camila Giorgi and Greetje Minnen.