London, May 25: Bianca Andreescu had little trouble in her first outing on clay this season, easing past Andrea Lazaro Garcia at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.
Andreescu had been absent from the WTA Tour since making the final in Miami back in March, when she was forced to retire when a set and 4-0 down against Ashleigh Barty due to an ankle injury.
A positive COVID-19 test result ruled her out of competing in Madrid and also Rome, though the Canadian showed few signs of rust on her return.
The top seed defeated the world number 279 – who was making her main-draw debut after coming through qualifying – in just 61 minutes, a 6-1 6-2 triumph sealed in a hurry thanks to five breaks of serve.
Champion at the 2019 US Open, Andreescu did not play in any grand slam event last year. She has only featured in the main draw at the French Open once before, reaching the second round at Roland Garros two years ago.
"I feel really, really good," the world number seven said after an impressive opening display. "I had really good preparation coming into this tournament, so I'm super happy."
Also in action on Monday, Yulia Putintseva overcame Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson via a tie-break in the deciding set of their see-saw contest.
The fourth seed eventually prevailed 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) after three hours and 20 minutes on court, booking her a spot in the last 16 of the tournament.
Zhang Shuai was successful in her first outing, beating Misaki Doi 7-5 6-4. Barbora Krejcikova was another seed to make it through, having led 6-3 3-0 when opponent Oceane Dodin retired.
Caroline Garcia overcame Zarina Diyas 7-5 6-2, while Maryna Zanevska needed less than an hour to overcome Yuliya Hatouka 6-2 6-1 and set up a clash with Andreescu.
Jil Teichmann was also a winner in straight sets against Anna Blinkova, but Venus Williams' campaign is over early after going out to Sorana Cirstea, who dominated a decider to triumph 6-1 2-6 6-1.