Melbourne Park, 6 December 2011 | James Hunter-Smith

Arina Rodionova stormed past Alenka Hubacek in the opening round of the women’s Australian Open 2012 Play-off today, coming away with a convincing 6-2 6-0 win.

After taking control of the match early, the 21-year-old Rodionova never dropped her guard and rolled her opponent with conviction.

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After a few disruptive months due to injury, Rodionova said she felt in fine shape for the event.

“I felt really good today, and I feel like I’m ready for the tournament,” she said.

“I had a couple of really good days fitness-wise and good preparation so it felt really good on the court.”

Rodionova said she came into the game with a clear gameplan and was ready for Hubacek’s characteristic serve-volley approach.

“I knew that she was playing that way so I was ready for it. I had my ideas where to return the ball, and it worked out,” she said.

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Rodionova stamped her authority early after breaking Hubacek in the third game, attacking her opponent’s second serve by returning from well inside the court and taking a quick 2-1 lead.

This style of play continued two games later when the Victorian slammed a crosscourt return winner, promptly followed by a sharp backhand across the court well out of Hubacek’s reach.

Down 1-4, 21-year-old Hubacek was handed a plethora of opportunities to break back but two unforced errors from the net – including a wayward smash – denied her of the chance to stage any form of comeback.

After taking out the first set 6-2, Rodionova didn’t drop her guard as she instantly broke her opponent. Hubacek tried to play aggressively by serve-volleying as much as possible, but the world No.239 was able to combat the tactic by placing her returns down the line.

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It wasn’t long before Rodionova was up 5-0 and on her way to a convincing victory, but Hubacek continued to battle and refused to bow out without a fight.

Rodionova needed four attempts at closing out the match with Hubacek saving three match points.

But her fighting efforts were to no avail as Rodionova took out the second set 6-0.

Things were not so straightforward for eighth seed Emelyn Starr who overcame a courageous Stephanie Bengson 7-6(4) 5-7 7-5.

It was a seesawing, game-for-game affair with both players trying desperately to break away, but with limited success.

After dropping a tight opening set, Bengson refused to back away and pushed up the court, seizing her opportunities and going for the sidelines.

By keeping the ball deep she forced Starr to play defensively, and kept the match alive by taking out the second set.

But the 22-year-old Starr was able to hold her ground, grinding out the final set 7-5, and will look to recover quickly as she takes on top seed Casey Dellacqua tomorrow.

In other results, WA’s Storm Sanders demonstrated her mental toughness after upsetting fifth seed Bojana Bobusic 3-6 7-6(4) 6-3 and continues her solid form from the 18s event last week.

Local fourth seed Sally Peers also cruised past young Viktorija Rajicic 6-2 6-2 and used her lightning quick speed at the net to put points away.

Third seed Isabella Holland overcame an early break and quickly hit her stride, proving far too good for Rachel Tredoux 6-3 6-0.

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