Melbourne VIC, Australia, 13 January 2014 | AAP

Drawing on all her knowledge of how hard it is to come back from major shoulder surgery, Casey Dellacqua powered past former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva on Monday and into the second round of the Australian Open.

The left-hander from Perth enjoyed her career high at Melbourne Park in 2008 when she rode a wave of emotion all the way to the round of 16.
A year later, Dellacqua endured the low of a full shoulder reconstruction, giving her a special insight into the plight of Zvonareva, who only returned to the WTA Tour in late December after a 17-month lay-off.

“That first big match or first big tournament coming back, I know how it feels,” said Dellacqua, whose 6-2 6-2 victory made her the first local to advance to the second round.

“I have been there and done that.

“I wanted to make her play as many balls as I could, to make her feel like she was under a lot of pressure and create a few errors on her side.

“She’s obviously not at the level that she was when she was No.2 in the world.

“But she’s still a quality opponent.”

Dellacqua – who won the Open wildcard play-off event in December – sensed it was going to be her day when she won a marathon third game in the second set after successfully challenging a line call.

Zvonareva, a Wimbledon and US Open finalist in 2010, has spent much of the last year and a half undergoing rehabilitation on her shoulder and finishing a degree in international economic relations.

“I’m definitely too far away from my level in 2010, but that’s normal and hopefully if I work hard I will get back to where I want to be,” she said.

“But I wanted to come back. I did my rehab, I did everything I could and I’m lucky to be playing my first grand slam so soon.”

Dellacqua’s second-round opponent will be 2013 Wimbledon semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium, who cruised past Britain’s Laura Robson 6-3 6-0.

Australian Jarmila Gajdosova lost a seesawing three-setter to German ninth seed Angelique Kerber.

Gajdosova, who battled the viral infection mononucleosis for much of 2013, looked the likely winner when she raced through the second set 6-0, despite rolling her left ankle and calling for a medical timeout after the opening point.

But she could not keep the momentum going in the decider, with Kerber powering to a 6-3 0-6 6-2 victory.