Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic failed to halt the late momentum of Garbine Muguruza, as the resurgent Spaniard conquered the local hope in three tense sets 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Tomljanovic, who was making her first berth in the second round of the Australian Open in her last five attempts, fought valiantly, going toe-to-toe with the two-time grand slam champion in a ruthless battle of the baseline.
However, Muguruza's experience hoisting the Roland Garros and Wimbledon trophies proved monumental, securing the last three games of the match following a rain delay.
"It was a tough battle. We both fought to the end, Ajla played very well so I had to play my best in order to win the match," Muguruza told the Rod Laver Arena faithful post-match.
"Ajla is a very aggressive player as well, I had to stay aggressive play my game, I knew she was going to hit very good shots so I just had to stay patient."
More to come…
The Open battles the elements (again)
Play on Melbourne Park’s outdoor courts, exposed to the harsh brutality of the Australian summer, failed to commence until at least 12:30pm, with some not seeing a single ball struck for more than three hours.
But it wasn’t for any old rain delay.
This instalment of the Australian Open, already afflicted by smoke haze from the Gippsland and NSW bushfires and swirly winds on Wednesday, now resembled the clay courts of Roland Garros.
Wow tough situation with rain last night and a dust storm in Melbourne. Courts team working hard to get courts cleaned and ready for play. You can see the orange dust on court #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/Whpo8EGIYK— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) January 23, 2020
And it was due to red dust, which swept into Melbourne from South Australia and NSW during overnight storm activity.
Cleaning teams rushed to pressure hose down the discoloured courts and seats, to ensure spectators did not have their tennis-watching experience tarnished by rust-coloured bottoms.
Questions were raised of tournament organisers for not pre-emptively covering the outside courts with tarps, with dusty rainfall forecast hours before it struck Melbourne.
Already contending with massive delays across the tournament site, the day's play plunged into further disarray after unwelcome rain returned, seeing action across all but the three showcourts suspended.
Looking ahead — tonight's must-watch matches
Nick Kyrgios  (AUS) v Gilles Simon (FRA)
Back on his favoured ‘People’s Court’, Nick Kyrgios will hope to make another fast start against seasoned Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Both former quarterfinalists — Kyrgios in 2015, Simon in 2009 — expect the Australian’s flashy style to overpower the brick wall-like ways of the 36-year-old journeyman, with the help of a boisterous crowd.
Elina Svitolina  (UKR) v Lauren Davis (USA)
Elina Svitolina’s love affair with Melbourne Park has seen the Ukrainian make the last eight two years running, and will be looking to build on her semi-final appearances at Wimbledon and New York last year.
But first, the giant-killing American Davis, who executed an almighty upset over defending Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber last year, and pushed Simona Halep in a four-hour match in Melbourne in 2018. Upset alert?