Hobart, Australia, 9 January 2012 | AAP
Australian Casey Dellacqua’s comeback has gained some momentum with a hard-fought three-set win over Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva in the first round of the Hobart International.
The 26-year-old wildcard downed the world No.58 7-5 4-6 6-4 in blustery conditions at the Domain Tennis Centre.
Dellacqua is trying to regain the form that took her ranking to as high as No.39 in 2008, when she made the fourth round at the Australian Open and the third at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Currently No.134 in the world, she exited in the first round of the Brisbane International last week to Serb Bojana Jovanovski.
Shoulder and foot surgery set Dellacqua back over recent seasons but she won a record 30 straight matches on the second-tier Pro Tour last year and took some of that form into Monday’s match.
Dellacqua’s temperament proved better suited to the tough conditions than her 27-year old opponent’s, the Kazak player showing plenty of frustration over line calls and missed opportunities.
The Queenslander was broken in her first service game of the second and third sets but fought hard to get the crucial breaks, no more so than in converting her first match point when Voskoboeva hit a chance wide with an open court.
In the end, it was Dellacqua who took her opportunities, converting seven of nine break points and saving 10 of 16 against her in a match lasting two hours, 12 minutes.
Dellacqua says she’s ready to make another run at the Australian Open after several seasons disrupted by injury.
“I certainly feel like a different person and player now,” she said.
“Mentally, I guess as you’re a bit older you just mature a bit more and I feel like I’m ready to make runs like that again.
“I definitely feel like I’m in a position right now to be able to compete with these girls and do this week-in week-out.”
She will next face top-seeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.
Later in the day, Ashleigh Barty made her WTA main draw debut, falling 6-2 6-2 to American world No.56 Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Hobart International.
It had started promisingly for the young Queenslander, who stunningly won the Australian Open wildcard play-off late last year.
She opened by holding her serve then broke her 26-year-old opponent to lead 2-0 before the American’s power and experience came to the fore with three service breaks in the first and two in the second set.
Junior Wimbledon champion Barty found herself in the spotlight when she won her way into the season’s first grand slam following a handful of ITF tour and qualifying appearances and a training stint in Las Vegas with Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi.
Last year’s finalist Mattek-Sands will meet Romanian Soran Cirstea in the second round.
In other results, Italy’s Sara Errani beat Swede Johanna Larsson 6-3 6-3, fourth seed Angelique Kerber downed Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2 6-4 and German Mona Barthel defeated Italian Romina Oprandi 6-1 6-4. Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova also progressed.