Caroline Garcia said on Tuesday that she was enjoying tennis again after a tough couple of years, where injuries caused her form to desert her.
The French fourth seed took just 65 minutes to overwhelm Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov 6-3, 6-0 and cement her status as a real contender for the first Grand Slam of the year.
Ranked four in September 2021, she lost in the first round at Melbourne Park a year ago to drop outside the top 70.
But she stormed back into form later in 2022, winning titles on all three surfaces, including the season-ending WTA Tour Finals in Fort Worth to soar up the rankings.
“We always say things can change very quickly,” Garcia said after setting up a second-round clash against another Canadian, Leylah Fernandez.
“A couple of years were very tough and I had to deal with a lot of injuries,” she added,.
She credited her backroom team for her stunning return to elite company.
“It’s tough. But I got a good team behind me who really helped me to get healthy again and to enjoy what I was doing on the court. The support was really important. I enjoyed playing tennis again. I was, like, I want to go forward, I want to make winners,” said Garcia, who started her season by winning all three of her matches for France at the United Cup and then reached the quarter-finals in Adelaide.
“It’s the best way to play tennis. So I’m trying to keep going that way,” French fourth seed added.
Unseeded Fernandez reached the US Open final in 2021, eventually losing to Britain’s Emma Raducanu in the title clash.
Garcia said the pair had never played each other before, but she was expecting the 20-year-old Fernandez, who is ranked 40th, to be a dangerous opponent.
“If you want to go all the way in a Slam, you have to beat some tough players,” said Garcia, who made her Melbourne Park debut a decade ago with her best run, to the last 16, in 2018.
“It’s a good test. A good challenge.”