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 VekiÄ 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.
"I'm definitely happy I didn't forget how to play tennis, how to play matches, how to win," VekiÄ said in a video conference. "It's a huge relief so I'm really happy right now.
"It was definitely a bit strange. I was really nervous yesterday, even more today, but after the first few games I just kind of relaxed and I was focused."
VekiÄ 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.
VekiÄ 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.
But beyond this week VekiÄ has little idea if her plans could change as the pandemic continues to affect events worldwide.
VekiÄ is hoping to compete in the US Open, where she reached the quarterfinals last year, and the French Open as well as Rome.
"Things are changing every week so I think we just have to take it week by week and try to adapt as best as we can, and hope to play as much as we can," VekiÄ said. "The uncertainty gives everyone a lot of anxiety."
The US Open is scheduled to begin 31 August, and the French Open from 27 September.
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 Èig.
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 CÃ®rstea of Romania.
The Italian next faces KristÃ½na PlÃÅ¡kovÃ¡ who upest 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.
Players and anyone who comes into contact with players were tested for COVID-19 before they departed for Palermo, upon arrival, and then again every four days.