Danielle Collins needed less than an hour to beat 2018 champion Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1 at the Brisbane International on Monday, already a better start to the Australian summer than she made in her breakthrough trip last year.
Collins lost in her main draw debut to Petra Kvitova in Brisbane last year, but rebounded to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open. She had never won a main draw match at a major until going on a five-match roll at Melbourne Park in 2019, including an upset over then-No. 2 Angelique Kerber.
The 26-year-old American finished last year at No. 31 in the rankings, posting five top 20 wins in the season. She has added another one already after dismantling the sixth-ranked Svitolina, who was runner-up at last year's season-ending WTA Finals and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Collins will play either Donna Vekic or qualifier Yulia Putintseva in the next round, and possibly 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur after that.
The 35-year-old Stosur, a wild-card entry in her 10th appearance at the tournament in her home state, upset Kerber 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) to advance beyond the first round in Brisbane for the first time since 2016.
“That's exactly the start anyone wants is to win their first one. I'm very, very happy with that win over Angie," Stosur said. “It's probably my first top-20 win in a little while, so to come out and play well ... it was great feeling."
Stosur led 5-2 and had a chance to serve for the first set before Kerber rallied and won five straight games, then get within two points of clinching it when she took a 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker. On a stadium court — the main arena is reserved for the ATP Cup, which is running concurrently in Brisbane until Wednesday — Stosur won the next six points to regain momentum.
There were no breaks of serve in the second set, and Stosur controlled the tiebreaker this time. The win ended a run of four losses to former No. 1-ranked Kerber, a three-time major champion, and improved her record to 6-4 in their head-to-head meetings.
Barbora Strycova beat seventh-seeded Johanna Konta 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and Americans Alison Riske and Sofia Kenin opened with wins. Riske beat Karolina Muchova 6-4, 6-2 and Kenin beat Anastasija Sevastova 7-6 (1), 6-4.
Top-ranked Ash Barty and second-seeded Karolina Pliskova had first-round byes.