An emotional Jarmila Gajdosova ended a horror 2012 with a stirring triumph, upsetting world number 16 Roberta Vinci at the Brisbane International.
Scoring her first win in a main draw match since the French Open, Gajdosova came from a set down to eliminate the Italian 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the first round at Pat Rafter Arena.
The Slovak-born Melbourne baseliner reached a career-high ranking of number 25 in 2011 but had fallen to 183 following the death of her mother in September.
Gajdosova shed tears when she closed out the 110-minute match by breaking Vinci's serve for the third time in the third set.
She will play second seed Maria Sharapova in the second round on Tuesday.
"It's been a long road," Gajdosova told Grandstand.
"I haven't played since September. I had about six, seven weeks [off] then I trained for about eight weeks, so it's different training and different playing matches.
"So, I'm definitely missing the match practise, but I'm hoping if I can win here then hopefully I'll get that under my belt and I'll get better."
Vinci's serve dominated the first set but the powerful Gajdosova turned the tide in the second as she broke the world number one doubles player twice, and then carried on to be 4-1 up in the third.
"It's a great feeling to win again and to beat someone who is as highly ranked as Roberta is," Gajdosova said.
"She's a great player, so I'm very happy with how I started playing in Brisbane."
It was the second Australian success on the opening day of the Brisbane tournament as Perth late bloomer Bojana Bobusic enjoyed tense 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 qualifying upset of Czech Kristyna Pliskova in hot and windy conditions.
It was the 25-year-old's third straight three-set win in qualifying to propel her into the main draw, where she could strike former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.
The Belgrade-born Bobusic, who completed a sociology degree at the University of California, won the Australian Open wildcard play-off a fortnight ago in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, 15-time major singles winner Serena Williams opened her Brisbane account with a clinical 6-2, 6-1 triumph over fellow American Varvara Lepchenko.
The third-seeded Williams withdrew from an exhibition tournament in Thailand last week because of fears she may not have recovered recent foot surgery.
But her concerns amounted to little following her win over Lepchenko.
"I was a little nervous, but I was completely fine," Williams said.
"I was excited to get an early start so just in case I did have any pain I could have tomorrow off, but everything was fine."
Sixth seed and 2011 Brisbane champion, Petra Kvitova, also advanced via a straight-sets win, with the Czech beating Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-4.
AAP/ABCTags: sport, tennis, brisbane-4000 First posted December 30, 2012 16:43:50