Man of the match Ponting hit an aggressive 63 off 77 balls in a rain-interrupted match at Centurion.
"It wasn't one of my best innings today ... but it was good to get some time in the middle," said Ponting.
"Hopefully that's the start of a big tour for me."
Australia went on to win by 93 runs under the Duckworth Lewis method and now lead 1-0 in the best of three match ODI series.
Ponting added: "It's really important to get off to a fast start and we've done that here. The fact the game was shortened probably hurts South Africa ... a lot of their batsmen just didn't get that time in the middle they probably needed.
"All in all I think we're in a really strong position in the series now."
Australia and South Africa meet again in the second ODI in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, October 23.