Winning return for Kleybanova
Russian topples Larsson on her first match back
Last Updated: March 21, 2012 10:56pm
Alisa Kleybanova: Made a winning return in Miami
Alisa Kleybanova made a winning comeback at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami just 10 months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The 26-year-old wildcard beat Sweden's Johanna Larsson on Tuesday in the first round of the prestigious tournament.
It was an incredible performance from Kleybanova as she battled back from a set down to win 2-6 6-3 6-2 over the world No.64 in a match lasting more than two hours.
But Kleybanova's fighting spirit has never been questioned since she bravely announced she was to undergo a course of treatment at a hospital in Perugia which specialises in the disease, a form of cancer which affects the white blood cells.
The Russian, who reached a career-high of 20th in the world rankings early in 2011, revealed in a pre-tournament press conference that she was so keen to return to the sport she had started practising again as early as February, just seven months after her initial announcement.
She said: "Since I was a kid I've been used to hard work and discipline, and there are lots of things you have to overcome when you do this. All your life you have to learn to deal with things by yourself.
"When you have a huge problem, you're used to it - even though this was completely different to anything I am used to, I was still very mentally motivated to overcome it, which obviously helped a lot.
"It has been almost a year since I've been on the tour and things have probably improved and changed, but I have a huge motivation to live 100 per cent every day of my life."
Kleybanova will now take on fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the second round.
Former top-10 player Jelena Dokic bowed out early, the experienced Australian losing 6-1 7-5 to Russia's Ekaterina Makarova.
With the seeds not making their entrance until round two, there were also opening-day wins for Chanelle Scheepers, Anna Tatishvili, Simona Halep, Lourdes Dominguez Lino, Zheng Jie, Mona Barthel, Marina Erakovic and Tsvetana Pironkova.