WATCH: Collins eased through her first-round clash with Katharina Gerlach in straight sets.

Danielle Collins made a winning return to action after retiring from the Hungarian Grand Prix semifinals over the weekend, taking a 7-5, 6-3 win over Katharina Gerlach to open her 32nd Palermo Ladies Open campaign.

“I’ve had about two days of rest so that’s given me a little bit of time to get the inflammation in my arm to subside,” she explained after the match. “It’s feeling good today; I was serving probably the best I’ve served in the last three weeks, so that was really nice. Hopefully, it continues to not cause me any pain.”

Collins indeed won 75 percent of points behind her first serve and fended off late surges in both sets from her German opposition to advance in 90 minutes flat—giving the famously expressive American something to celebrate.

“I think every time I step out on the court, no matter where I’m playing, I try to bring good energy and a good fight. It’s all part of the effort and being competitive. I played a tough competitor today who definitely gave me some challenges along the way.”


Collins played a tough two-setter against Serena Williams at Roland Garros (Getty Images).

Collins played a tough two-setter against Serena Williams at Roland Garros (Getty Images).

Top seed in Palermo, Collins made it to the semifinals in Budapest—her first on clay—last week before forfeiting against Anhelina Kalinina; it was only the second time she had won back-to-back matches since undergoing surgery for chronic pain related to endometriosis. Though she played Serena Williams through two close sets in the third round of Roland Garros, Collins bowed out one round sooner at Wimbledon and went back to clay in an effort to readjust to tour life ahead of the US Open Series swing.

“Since my surgery a couple of months ago, it’s been all about getting more match play and building up that stamina and endurance. Any time you have surgery, especially one that’s so invasive and working on different organs, it takes a lot out of you and you lose that stamina. So, rebuilding that has been important so I can go far in tournaments and do a good job.”

Up next for the 27-year-old is Maddison Inglis, who thwarted hometown favorite Giulia Gatto-Monticone in straight sets on Monday. Collins won their last encounter on hard courts in 2019, and went on to reach the Australian Open semifinals the following week.

Around the Grounds…

No. 4 seed Zhang Shuai joined Collins in the second round when she knocked out Cristina Bucșa, 7-5, 6-3. Zhang last won a main-draw singles match at the Viking Classic in Birmingham, and will next face American Francesca di Lorenzo for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Other seeds tumbled, including No. 5 seed Viktoriya Tomova, who fell to Italian wild card Lucia Bronzetti, and No. 8 seed Kamilla Rakhimova couldn’t convert a one-set lead against Olga Danilovic and ultimately lost, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

A former teen phenom who won the Moscow River Cup in 2018, Danilovic reached the quarterfinals last week in Budapest as a qualifier, and will next face Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska to repeat the result in Palermo.