Karolina Pliskova wasted little time getting her Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open campaign up and running on Tuesday as the former world No 1 cruised into the second round with a straight-sets win over Ysaline Bonaventure.
Pliskova, 30, had been scheduled to face two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza in a blockbuster first-round clash but the Spaniard withdrew earlier in the day, citing "personal reasons". The late change in opponent made little difference as Pliskova outclassed the Belgian 6-1, 6-3.
The Czech, currently ranked No 20, dominated Bonaventure in every conceivable department, the lucky loser not able to handle the pace and power of Pliskova's serve or groundstrokes.
Pliskova broke at the first opportunity to lead 3-0 and confirmed her dominance with a second break to ease to a one-set lead. An early night appeared to be on the cards when the two-time major finalist broke at the start of the second set but Bonaventure found some stability on her own service games, holding the next three while still making no in-roads on the Pliskova serve.
The victory, which had felt inevitable from the first game, was eventually completed after just 47 minutes when Pliskova earned a second break. Pliskova's next opponent is expected to provide a sterner test, with Wimbledon champion and recent Australian Open finalist Elena Rybakina standing between her and a place in the quarter-finals.
"I couldn't have asked for a better start today," said Pliskova. "There was a last minute change in the draw as I was meant to play a different player but she withdrew, and this one was a lefty so it wasn't easy. No first round match is easy so I think I did really well today.
"I was prepared for Muguruza, obviously, but as a tennis player you have to be used to this as it can happen. For me, I just focus on my game so it doesn't make much of a difference. I just wanted to serve and play well. I think I played better than I expected."
Former US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez was eliminated in the first round following a defeat to American Shelby Rogers.
Fernandez, who was runner-up to Emma Raducanu at the 2021 US Open, looked to be the player in the ascendancy when she took the second-set tie-break, but the Canadian appeared to lose focus and fell to a 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 loss against world No 46 Rogers.
Rogers will take on Estonian seventh seed Annet Kontaveit in the second round.
In the day's first match on Court 1, Qinwen Zheng showed why she is one of the most exciting young talents on the WTA Tour with an assured 6-3, 6-3 win over Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino.
Qinwen, 20, earned two breaks of serve in the first set and another in the second to complete a comfortable win and set up an enticing second-round clash with Latvian fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko.
In the first match on the Stadium Court, Beatriz Haddad Maia bounced back from dropping the first set to win eight straight games to complete a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.
It was a similar story in the following match as Russian eighth seed Liudmila Samsonova fought back to defeat lucky loser Claire Liu 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 after the American stepped in to replace Spain's Paula Badosa, who pulled out due to illness.
Day 3 gets underway with former French Open champion Ostapenko taking on China's Qinwen, followed by Russian fourth seed Veronika Kudermetova, who begins her tournament against Belgium's Elise Mertens.
Second seed Belinda Bencic, who like Kudermetova received a bye into the second round, faces Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk, before Kontaveit and Rogers close out the action. All singles matches on thee third day will be played on the Stadium Court.