Happy Homecoming for Swiss Miss
It seems only fitting that Martina Hingis' return to Grand Slam tennis took place on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open 2006.
And it seemed even more appropriate that she should have a first-up win on the court that served as the stage for one of her greatest feats - six consecutive finals appearances including three championship victories from 1997 to 1999.
Hingis disposed of No.30 seed Vera Zvonareva 6-1 6-2 in front of a legion of adoring fans and she admitted after the match that it had felt like she was coming home.
"I love coming back here and this stadium has been so great to me," she said.
"It was beautiful to walk in there. I mean, already the previous days I got to practice there. Really a lot of players say it's kind of slow surface, this and that, but any time I come back into these grounds, it just feels amazing."
"Although it was still empty when I was practising, you could feel the atmosphere already of a Grand Slam. So many memories coming also back here, thinking about, you know, all the previous years."
Hingis made three years out of the game seem like three minutes as the flawless Swiss timing that had been a feature of her game was immediately evident. It wasn't just as simple as showing up for the Swiss Miss, however.
"I wouldn't necessarily …… say that it was easy, I just played really well," she said.
"I don't know, I just didn't make many unforced errors, stick to my strategy, pretty much did what I was supposed to do out there."
"I just think I just really carry myself that way from the past years, just knew what I had to do, how to play well. I was thinking, 'what did I used to do on this surface?'. I mean, I practice on this every day in and out at home, though it's indoors, (it) might be different. Still, you know, I love the surface - I love coming here."
The 25-year old pointed to her extensive preparation under the watchful eye of her mother and coach Melanie Molitor, as the major factor in her impressive return.
"I knew I was well?prepared for the situation, for the occasion," she said.
"If I wasn't, maybe it's a different story. But I knew, you know, tonight I felt close to being a hundred per cent like physically, mentally, everything."
"I mean, I really felt well going on court today. Being a night match, it's a little cooler, you don't have to really face the humidity and the heat. It definitely helps when you know that you can last probably longer because that was always my biggest fear, can I really last physically?"
Despite the apparent ease of her passage to the second round, Hingis is not getting carried away so early in her comeback and was keeping her goals simple as she tries to work her way through the draw.
"I'm just really happy that I won tonight," she said.
"I don't know, just hopefully, day by day I can even improve and get better, carry myself really with the occasion and step it up in the next matches. But I know I'm facing a tough draw."