SYDNEY, Australia - There is something about the Australian summer that brings out the best in Ekaterina Makarova.
On her past two visits Down Under, Makarova has made it through to the last eight at the Australian Open, and on Monday she posted another notable result, knocking out World No.8 Jelena Jankovic in the first round of the Apia International Sydney.
Makarova was playing her first singles match in over four months after missing the back end of last season with a wrist injury. However, there was no sign of rustiness from the Russian, who needed little over an hour to defeat the No.4 seed, 64 62.
"We played in Cincinnati not a long time ago and it was a really tough match, and I lost against her in three sets," Makarova said. "Then I got injured and didn't play anything after the US Open, so it was tough to start again against such a great player.
"The wind made things not that comfortable, but I just really focused on every point because I know she's the sort of player who doesn't miss easy shots. I went on the court reminding myself that it would be a long match and I'd have to be very solid."
Next up for Makarova is former junior sparring partner Carla Suárez Navarro. The two have split their four senior encounters, although it was Suárez Navarro that held the edge in the early days.
"We were playing together in juniors a lot and I think I never beat her! She's a different player, she's Spanish, plays with a lot of spin and a one-handed backhand, so I think for me it will be interesting and I'm feeling fresh and want to go out there and fight," Makarova said.
"It's the first match of the season. It's always very tough," Wozniacki said. "You know, Julia had played already a few matches and she started off very strongly.
"She was hitting winners from the forehand, from the backhand, and I needed some time just to get into the match. I'm really pleased about the way I fought out there. Maybe wasn't the prettiest match, but I was fighting. It's always tough in the beginning of the year."