Samantha Stosur has made an encouraging return from a foot injury with a three-set victory over in-form German Angelique Kerber at the Madrid Open.
Stosur hasn’t played since the Charleston WTA event at the start of April and missed Australia’s Fed Cup world group play-off loss to the Netherlands last month.
But the former French Open finalist returned to the court on Monday, serving 14 aces on her way to a morale-boosting 4-6 6-3 6-3 first round win over the 12th-seeded Kerber.
Aside from world No.1 Serena Williams, Kerber has been the form player on tour in recent weeks.
Germany’s world No.11 has won the past two clay-court events, in Charleston and Stuttgart, notching victories over reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki during her 11-match winning streak.
Kerber had also beaten Stosur in their previous two encounters, including in the first round of the Fed Cup in Germany in February.
Stosur’s victory advances the 2011 US Open champion to a second-round meeting with Estonian Kaia Kanepi.
The 31-year-old world No.26 hasn’t got past the second round of a tournament this year, but Sunday’s win gives the Queenslander a much-needed boost ahead of the French Open later this month.
Joining her in the second round is fellow Australia Casey Dellacqua, who defeated Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-4 7-6 (7-5) and will now face Pole Agnieszka Radwanska.
Croatian-born Australian Ajla Tomljanovic also won, reigning 6-4 6-3 over young Swiss star Belinda Bencic.
She took just over an hour to secure the victory but faces an unenviable task in round two, when she meet two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.
Jarmila Gajdosova didn’t have as much joy, citing illness as she went down in straight sets to Wozniacki.
“Sorry guys been sick since I got on the plane to Madrid. I have been in bed throwing up … I really wanted to play again,” the 28-year-old tweeted.
“It’s been so long since Indian wells and I missed it. But my body and stomach couldn’t do it and last few days of no hitting showed on court today as well my legs and movement.”
Elsewhere, world No.1 Serena Williams moved through with a 6-0, 6-1 destruction of fellow American Madison Brengle in less than an hour.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion will face compatriot Sloane Stephens in round two.
Defending champion Maria Sharapova showed no signs of her recent struggles as she beat Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 6-2 6-3, setting up a meeting with Colombian Mariana Duque.