SYDNEY -- Eugenie Bouchard provided relief from a deluge of bad injury news in the women's game ahead of the Australian Open, as the Canadian won 6-2, 6-1 against Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Hobart International on Monday.
The former No. 5 is on the comeback trail since sustaining a concussion when she fell in the dressing room during last year's US Open, with the Shenzhen Open last week being her first tournament since then.
Bouchard said before her first match in Hobart that she had "zero expectations" for the tournament as she eases back into competitive tennis after a four-month layoff.
However, she was impressive against American veteran Mattek-Sands, just as many Australian Open contenders deal with injuries.
Daria Gavrilova, who teamed with Nick Kyrgios to win Australia's first Hopman Cup title in Perth last week, became the latest player to withdraw from the Sydney International on Monday because of an abdominal injury.
"If I had a bit more time, I would be fine," Gavrilova said. "But it's just a bit sore, so it's a bit of a precaution.
"It's not great timing, but I'm not too worried because it's early days. I should be fine for Australian Open."
Defending champion and world No. 5 Petra Kvitova withdrew from the tournament on Sunday because of a stomach virus and was joined a few hours later by No. 2-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who cited a leg injury.
Last week, the world's four top-ranked women retired or withdrew from tournaments thanks to injuries: No. 1 Serena Williams (Hopman Cup/knee), second-ranked Simona Halep (Brisbane/ankle), No. 3 Garbine Muguruza (Brisbane/foot) and fourth-ranked Maria Sharapova (Brisbane/forearm). The additions of Kvitova and Radwanska leave the top-six-ranked women all under injury clouds ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 18.
Germany's Angelique Kerber, ranked No. 10, won her first-round match in Sydney, beating Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, while former US Open champion and local favorite Sam Stosur beat Roberta Vinci 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Meanwhile, Britain's Andy Murray is also in Melbourne hoping a long lead-in to the Australian Open will help him in his quest to win the tournament at last, after four appearances in the final.
"I love playing here and I've played some of my best tennis here," Murray said on Monday. "If I keep working hard and giving myself opportunities, hopefully I'll be able to win."
At the ASB Classic in Auckland, American Jack Sock took only 43 minutes to beat Victor Estrella Burgos 6-0, 6-4 to claim his place in the second round. World No. 26 Sock took the first set in only 17 minutes, finishing it with his fifth ace, then won the second set with a single service break and without facing a break point.
"I came out in difficult conditions today for everyone, with the wind swirling a little bit and the court fast, and I'm happy to get through."