US Open champion Kim Clijsters dropped just three games in a warning to her Australian Open rivals in a confident start to the Sydney International tournament.
Third seed Clijsters crushed Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 6-1, 6-2 in 62 minutes and only lost six points on serve.
“Maybe not the fastest serves I’ve hit, but I was very focused on trying to place my serves well and just making a lot of serves, especially when you’re playing into the sun,” Clijsters said.
“I didn’t want to give her a lot of second serves that she could attack on, so I was happy with that.”
Clijsters opened the new season with a straight-sets win over world number one Caroline Wozniacki in an exhibition match in Thailand, but said she was intent on raising the bar higher in her first official outing of the season.
“I had a good feeling with the way I was playing in Thailand and I was looking to lift my game up even a bit more,” Clijsters said.
“I’m happy with the level that I played and with my intensity and my focus and everything. It was a good match today.”
Clijsters, the bookmakers’ favourite to win this month’s Australian Open in Melbourne, now faces either Russian Nadia Petrova or a qualifier for a place in the Sydney quarter-finals.
In Sunday’s only other main draw match, dual grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova put paid to Australian wildcard Jelena Dokic, 6-2, 6-2 in just over an hour.
Russian Kuznetsova will take on either Australian fourth seed Samantha Stosur or Belgian Yanina Wickmayer in the second round.