Birmingham, Great Britain , 19 June 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Daria Saville is feeling upbeat after contesting her first WTA tournament in nine months.

The 29-year-old Australian has been sidelined since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee in September last year.

Saville made a promising return at a WTA 250 grass-court tournament in Birmingham over the weekend, scoring a 6-4 0-6 6-2 victory against world No.112 Madison Brengle in the opening qualifying round.

She then pushed world No.76 Cristina Busca to three sets in the final round.

In a video shared on social media, Saville opened up about the physical challenge of her return.

“It’s crazy how in tennis no matter how much we track our loads when building up after an injury, it is still so hard to replicate match intensity,” Saville said.

“I have friends who do soccer and AFL, and they told me if they were coming back from an ACL injury, they would play for like 10 minutes in their first game and then have a few days off. Then maybe play 15 minutes in the next game. Whereas in tennis, it’s like ‘Okay, off you go’.”

Saville revealed she “felt like I’d been hit by a double-decker bus” the morning after her first-round win, yet was still able to battle for two-hours and 17-minutes against Bucsa.

“At least now, I know I’ve been able to play six sets in two days after a long a**e injury,” said Saville, who has slipped to No.235 in the world rankings.

The former world No.20 is set to continue her comeback at Wimbledon, where she has used a protected ranking of world No.54 to enter.

Saville opened up about her return on The AO Show podcast last week, revealing she had “no expectations”.

“I don’t expect myself to be playing amazing tennis straight away,” Saville said.

“Win or lose … just to step out on the court, it’s already a win.”

> READ MORE: Daria Saville – “I’m excited to test myself”

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