PALERMO: Tour-level tennis resumed after a five-month enforced break on Monday, and players at the Palermo Ladies Open had to handle their own towels and not shake hands of opponents.
The strict rules because of the coronavirus included no showers on site, and no autographs or photos with fans. Players in the singles main draw come from 16 European countries and Argentina.
A limited number of fans were allowed into the 1,500-seat stadium court and had to follow social distancing measures.
They watched sixth-seeded Donna Veki of Croatia beat Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-2 in windy conditions in the first official match for men or women since early March.
Veki sealed a place in the second round on her second match point, breaking for the sixth time in the match when Rus hit a forehand wide.
Veki will next face Italian teenager Elisabetta Cocciaretto, who beat Polona Hercog of Slovenia 7-6 (1), 6-3 for her first victory over a player ranked in the top 50.
Laura Siegemund of Germany also eased through in straight sets, beating Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-3, 6-4.
Siegemund next faces either fourth-seeded Anett Kontaveit or Patricia Maria ig.
It was harder for Sara Errani, the only previous champion in in the draw. The 2012 winner took nearly three hours to secure a 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 success over Sorana Crstea of Romania.
The Italian next faces Kristna Plkov who upset third-seeded Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4.
A third Italian is also through to the second round after Jasmine Paolini rallied from a set and a break down to beat Daria Kasatkina of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
In other results: eighth-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova also recovered from a set down to beat Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-0, 6-1, and seventh-seeded Dayana Yastremska triumphed 6-3, 6-4 over Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2020