Maria Kirilenko seems to find her feet in Melbourne. Her run to the quarter-finals in 2010, when she up-ended Maria Sharapova en route, remains her equal-best result at a slam, while two years ago she reached the doubles decider with Victoria Azarenka.
On Court 3 on Tuesday she looked especially light-footed in her 6-4 6-2 dismissal of diminutive American Vania King in the first round.
Both players’ best results have come in doubles – King the 2010 Wimbledon and US Open doubles champion, while Kirilenko teamed with fellow Russian Nadia Petrova last year to win the WTA Championships in Istanbul and an Olympic bronze medal.
But seeded 14th in singles and moving so swiftly under the Aussie sun she was almost basking in it, Kirilenko would hold high ambitions for 2013’s first major.
Serving at 3-all in the first set, Kirlenko used her experience at net to cleverly bring King into the net before sending a lunge forehand volley into the open court for a winner.
She would close out the first 6-4 before King called for the trainer for the second time in the match.
It was the Russian who remained sharp at the resumption of play running down a drop shot at 2-1 to whip a winner up the line and breaking for 3-1.
While both players were quick to reach for the ice bags to drape around their necks at the change of ends, Kirilenko’s movement was telling throughout.
She held for 5-2, and while King would save one match point with a wrong-footing forehand into the backhand corner, it was all over after one hour and 32 minutes; the American bowing out with a double fault.
Kirilenko will meet China’s Shuai Peng in the second round.