SEOUL, South Korea - Kaia Kanepi made a winning return to the WTA at the KDB Korea Open on Tuesday, shaking off three and a half months of injury lay-off with a routine first round victory at the International-level tournament.
Kanepi had a strong first half of the season, winning titles at Brisbane and Estoril and reaching her fourth Grand Slam quarterfinal at the French Open. But as soon as her run at Roland Garros was done the trouble began, as she had to withdraw from her next 10 events - including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open - because of a nagging bilateral Achilles injury.
But on Tuesday afternoon the World No.16 looked like she didn't miss a beat while she was missing in action, losing one game - and holding a game point in that game - en route to a 61 60 win over Korean wildcard Han Sung-Hee.
"I was very nervous in the beginning because I hadn't played any matches for the last three months," Kanepi said afterwards. "The first game was tough, but after I won that one I felt much more comfortable during the match."
"I definitely played better today than I have for a while," Wozniacki said in her post-match presser. "I've been practicing hard and I'm happy to see the results from that. I'm happy to be through. I'm just taking it one match at a time."
Wozniacki fell out of the Top 10 after a first round loss at the US Open and is playing a tournament as a non-Top 10 player for the first time in almost three and a half years (the last time she did was at Madrid in May 2009).
"I was No.1 for basically two years but things change - you always go up and down the rankings," Wozniacki commented. "I'm still young, so there's still going to be great wins and losses. It's all just part of the game. All I can do is try my best. At the end of the year you see your ranking, and that's it."
The other three seeds who advanced didn't all have it easy - No.8 seed Ekaterina Makarova beat Polona Hercog in straight sets, 64 61, but No.6 seed Varvara Lepchenko had to fend off six points in the second set to close out Camila Giorgi, 62 76(1), and No.7 seed Klara Zakopalova had to rally from 5-3 down in the third set to get past Garbiñe Muguruza, 64 46 76(1).
And the tournament saw its first upset as well - No.5 seed Julia Goerges led by a set and a break, and by 5-2 in the ensuing second set tie-break, but ended up losing to Sílvia Soler-Espinosa in three, 16 76(5) 62. The Spaniard's win over the World No.20 was her second Top 20 win - her first came earlier this year over a No.20-ranked Daniela Hantuchova in Fed Cup competition.