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Justine Henin registers comeback win in Brisbane

Justine Henin
Henin celebrates victory on her return to professional tennis

Belgium's Justine Henin made a winning return to professional tennis with victory over Russia's Nadia Petrova in the Brisbane International first round.

In her first match since retiring in May 2008, the former world number one beat second seed Petrova 7-5 7-5.

"I have been waiting for this moment for so long. I am so happy about what I did on court," said the seven-time Grand Slam champion.

Petrova added: "Henin is playing better tennis than before she retired."

Third seed Ana Ivanovic, another former world number one, also reached the second round following a 7-5 1-6 6-3 win over Australian Jelena Dokic.

The 22-year-old, who has slipped to 21st in the rankings, was playing in her first match since a first-round exit at the hands of Czech Lucie Safarova in Tokyo in September.

I feel better today than when I retired. Better emotionally, mentally, better with myself and that makes a big difference

Justine Henin

In the men's event, top seed Andy Roddick won his first match since suffering a knee injury in October, beating Australia's Peter Luczak 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

Henin stunned the tennis world by announcing her retirement in May 2008, when she was still ranked number one in the world.

However, she returned to training five months ago in preparation for a return to the tour.

And in a hard-fought win over world number 20 Petrova, she showed she had lost none of her battling qualities.

"Everything went well," admitted Henin. "I have a lot to work on but for a first match, a first tough round, I can be really positive today.

"I feel better today than when I retired, that's for sure. Better emotionally, mentally, better with myself and that makes a big difference - that I will enjoy being on the tour again.

She will next play qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan, who beat Australia's Casey Dellacqua 6-2 0-6 7-6 (7-1).

Ivanovic, who did not win a tournament in 2009, will meet Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky in her next match as she looks to regain the form that took her to the French Open title in 2008.

606: DEBATE

"Obviously there were nerves in the beginning but I did a really good preparation and that gave me a lot of confidence," she stated.

"I thought I was serving and moving a lot better than my previous match, which has been a while, so it's definitely good to have a victory under the belt."

Roddick had to pull out of the season-ending with the knee injury that curtailed his season.

However, he said he was happy with his fitness ahead of the Australian Open.

"I by no means expected to come in after four months and breeze right into it," he said.

"First rounds are always a bit dicey. I was hitting it all right towards the end, so that's a good thing."

Frenchman Richard Gasquet said he benefited from playing with "nothing in the head" as he saw off Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-3 4-6 6-4.

Gasquet tested positive for cocaine in March 2009 but was finally cleared of wrongdoing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in December.

"I'm not a different player. I just lost six months. For sure, I need to have a rhythm," said the 23-year-old.

"I spent a lot of time with a big story in my head. That's why it's not easy to come back, that's why I'm happy to win."



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see also
Curtains up for new season
09 Jan 10 |  Tennis
New Year's resolution
30 Dec 09 |  Tennis
Henin given wildcard for Sydney
21 Dec 09 |  Tennis
Henin seeks elusive Wimbledon win
06 Dec 09 |  Tennis
Henin confirms Brisbane comeback
21 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Troubled season over for Ivanovic
03 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Henin announces shock retirement
14 May 08 |  Tennis


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