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Tennis - 21. March 2012.

Kleybanova's Triumphant Return

Wild card Alisa Kleybanova made a triumphant return at the Sony Ericsson Open on Tuesday, rallying past Johanna Larsson 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round.

Kleybanova, playing her first match since undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma last July, did not face a break point in the final two sets to wrap up the victory in two hours and 10 minutes.

The Russian advances to play compatriot Maria Kirilenko, the No. 22 seed.

In addition to Kleybanova, two other wild cards were successful in their openers. British teenager Heather Watson edged Sorana Cristea 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4), and China’s Shuai Zhang topped Elena Baltacha 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2. Zhang will take on five-time champion Serena Williams in the second round.

Australian Open quarter-finalist Ekaterina Makarova capitalized on six of her 10 break point opportunities against Jelena Dokic to beat the Australian in 80 minutes.

Two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Jie Zheng set up a second-round clash with in-form No. 18 seed Angelique Kerber, after dismissing Lucie Hradecka 6-1, 6-4. Zheng won 64 per cent of her second serve return points to break the Czech five times.

Tsvetana Pironkova, Mona Barthel, Marina Erakovic, Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Anna Tatishvili also advanced in first-round action.
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