Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard has touched down in Hobart where she will begin her Australian summer of tennis, hoping to regain top form ahead of the Australian Open.
The 21-year-old on Friday drew veteran American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, for round one of the Hobart International, a tournament Bouchard has previously not played in, but one where Mattek-Sands made the final in 2011.
On Thursday Bouchard bombed out of a quarter-final match at China’s Shenzhen Open but said she experienced no ill effects during the tournament which was her return to competition after suffering a season-ending off-court concussion during September’s US Open.
“I didn’t experience any symptoms of the concussion, which was a victory for me,” Bouchard told ESPN after her first match in China.
“I just take it day by day, kind of week by week now.
“It’s my comeback, so I’m just taking it very slowly, and I’m just so happy to be back on tour.”
Bouchard has launched legal action, seeking compensation, against the United States Tennis Association after she fell on the tiled floor of a therapy room and sustained a head injury.
The injury prompted her withdrawal from events as she suffered ongoing dizziness, and an absence from competition of some four months.
But the right-hander, whose ranking has slipped to 49, is back and must take on Mattek-Sands against whom she has played and lost twice on hard court.
The match is expected to be played on Monday.
The Hobart tournament’s top seed, American Sloane Stephens, faces Japan’s Misaki Doi in round one.
Italian No.2 seed Camila Giorgi is up against Zarina Diyas from Kazakhstan, while unseeded defending champion Heather Watson, from Britain, meets Brazil’s Teliana Pereira.
Among the Australians, wildcard entry Jarmila Wolfe comes up against a yet-to-be-determined qualifier in round one.
And West Australian teenager Maddison Inglis, who has received a wildcard to the Australian Open, will start her preparations in the southern state against Russian Margarita Gasparyan.
“Getting on the court, getting fit and working on a few specifics,” Inglis told reporters of her preparations for Hobart and Melbourne.
A quarter-finalist in 2015, American Alison Riske is a late withdrawal from the Hobart tournament.