Doha - Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka beat Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-3 in the first round of the Qatar Total Open on Monday.
The Belarusian, who won in 2012 and 2013, was forced to withdraw last year due to a foot inflammation.
Returning to Doha as a wild card entrant, Azarenka needed just 66 minutes to beat the eighth-seeded Kerber.
"I'm pretty happy with it. You know, there isn't a lot of things to complain about," said the former world No.1, who has now slipped to 48.
Kerber, who lost to Simona Halep in last year's final, was blown away in the first set in which Azarenka dropped just nine points.
Meanwhile, eight-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams rolled the clock back with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 comeback win over Australia's Casey Dellacqua.
Results from the first day of the WTA Qatar Open on Monday (x denotes seeding):
Venus Williams (USA x7) bt Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) bt Sabine Lisicki (GER) 7-5, 6-4
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Angelique Kerber (GER x8) 6-0, 6-3