Alisa Kleybanova may have been away from the tennis circuit for the best part of two years, but she has certainly lost none of her competitive edge.
This much was evident from her post-match comments after losing to Eugenie Bouchard in the opening round of the Rogers Cup on Tuesday evening. Any suggestion that Kleybanova, who has played just a handful of tournaments since being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011, would be content to suffer a few defeats on her road back were given short shrift.
"I think no matter what I have been through, wins and losses are still important, because as an athlete I go on the court and with all my heart I want to win every match," Kleybanova said. "So of course when you lose it's very tough. So obviously you go out there to win.
"It's always going to be tough. It's never going to be like I go on the court, 'Okay, I lost, it doesn't matter.'"
However, following such a long spell away from the game, the Russian is also well aware of the need for patience. "I know that right now I need to be even stronger than before, because to come back it's going to take a while," she added. "It's going to take maybe some not great matches, like today, but I need to go through this, I need to get this experience, and sometimes it's not going to be very positive experience.
"I just have to get ready for that, because I know that my path won't be easy and I need to go for it and believe that I can do it."
Toronto was former World No.20 Kleybanova's highest-profile outing since returning to the tour full-time in May and despite the disappointment of the final result, she did manage to draw a few positives from being back on a show court.
"I was pretty excited to go out there. I love playing on big courts and being in front of the crowd," Kleybanova said. "It's great experience for me every time I go on the court.
"You know, today I went out, tried to do my best, but she played really well. There wasn't much I could do out there, but at this stage it's an experience for me. I'm not expecting it to be easy after such a big break to come back and play unbelievable tennis.
"So I just take it one step at a time and get ready for my next tournaments right now. Just get the lesson out of this match but not to think about it too much and just look forward."