Novak Djokovic marked his grand slam return with a thoroughly convincing win over Donald Young in the opening round of the Australian Open.
The former world number one was playing his first official match since retiring during his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych last summer with elbow problems that forced him to miss the rest of the season.
When Djokovic pulled out of warm-up tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Doha because of pain in his right elbow, there were doubts over whether he would be fit enough to play at Melbourne Park, where he shares the record of six titles with Roy Emerson.
The man himself was cautious about his fitness on the eve of the tournament and wore a compression sleeve but there were no signs of rust as he eased to a 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory over American Young.
Djokovic has remodelled his service action with the help of coaches Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek, shortening the back swing in a bid to protect the elbow, and it held up very well.
Young broke serve to avoid losing the second set to love but overall Djokovic won more than 70 per cent of points on his serve, and the Serbian's returning game was very sharp, too.
When a final Young shot drifted well wide, Djokovic beamed and held his arms aloft before kissing the court.
He said: "It feels so great to be back here, so great to be back on the tennis court. There's no better place for me to be playing after six months than here in Australia.
"A month ago I didn't know if I was going to come to Australia or not because the elbow was still not prepared for this level of competition."
There were even greater doubts over Stan Wawrinka, who has also been sidelined since Wimbledon following knee surgery and only decided on Saturday that he would play in the tournament.
Wawrinka argued neither his game nor his fitness were anywhere near where he would want them to be but he battled well to beat Ricardas Berankis 6-3 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7/2).
Fourth seed Alexander Zverev was tested by Thomas Fabbiano but did not drop a set in a 6-1 7-6 (7/5) 7-5 victory but 22nd seed Milos Raonic was beaten 6-7 (5/7) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7/4) by Lukas Lacko.
Raonic, a semi-finalist and quarter-finalist in the last two years, was another player coming back from an injury-ravaged 2017 but, unlike Djokovic and Wawrinka, he was unable to find a way through.
Dark horse David Goffin looked to be in trouble at a set and a break down against Matthias Bachinger but recovered to win 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 6-2 6-4.
Tennis is beginning to feel like business as usual again for Maria Sharapova.
The former world number one defeated Tatjana Maria 6-1 6-4 on Tuesday in her first match at the Australian Open since the failed drugs test two years ago that rocked the sport.
The 30-year-old still finds herself being questioned all the time about her 15-month absence and the repercussions from it but Sharapova is settling back into the routine of grand slam tennis.
After making her return with a run to the fourth round of the US Open in September, she will be looking to navigate a tricky draw in Melbourne and establish herself as one of the title contenders in a wide-open field.
She said: "I felt like I got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally last year. There were a lot of firsts again for me - playing the first tournament, first grand slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely.
"But it felt pretty routine today. I'm just really happy to be back here. It felt really good. Every point was really important to me today."
Sharapova found herself in the firing line of critics again on the eve of the tournament when she was invited to represent the women at the draw and carried the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup onto court.
Sharapova had no interest in responding to claims it was inappropriate, saying only: "I was invited to be part of the draw by (tournament director) Craig Tiley and the tournament organisation, and I kindly accepted."
As for how far she can go in the tournament, the 2008 champion feels she still has a distance to travel to rediscover grand slam-winning form.
"I feel like I'm building," said Sharapova. "Some things are coming a little slower than I wanted. Some things I feel good about.
"I think confidence comes with time and with match play and putting yourself in situations where you're able to take those opportunities.
"I know that nothing will be handed to me or anyone. I'm not overly confident. I have expectations because of my previous results in my career, and I know at what level I can play and what tennis I can produce. But I'm also realistic, and the process of coming back takes time."
Sharapova could face her US Open conqueror Anastasija Sevastova in the second round, and if she makes it through that, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber looms.
Kerber has made an unbeaten start to the season under new coach Wim Fissette, winning four singles matches at the Hopman Cup and then claiming the Brisbane International title.
She carried that form into her first-round clash with fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam, winning 6-0 6-4.
"I'm not trying to focus too much on what's ahead, on the past, or what's happened in the last year," she said. "I'm just trying to really restart again and try to enjoy my tennis again."
Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova began with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Veronica Cepede Royg while there were also victories for top-10 seeds Caroline Garcia and Johanna Konta.
- PA and Digital desk