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Wozniacki comes out of retirement, wins first-round match at National Bank Open | Tennis News

Caroline Wozniacki made a triumphant return to tennis, defeating Kimberly Birrell in straight sets at the National Bank Open on Tuesday.

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark reacts after winning a point against Kimberly Birrell of Australia (Getty Images via AFP)
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark reacts after winning a point against Kimberly Birrell of Australia (Getty Images via AFP)

Wozniacki dominated from the start, securing a 6-2, 6-2 victory while pushing her Australian opponent across the court during rallies. The Dane will face Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who beat Mayar Sherif of Egypt 6-4, 6-2.

“It’s like riding a bike basically,” Wozniacki told reporters after the match. “You never forget it once you’re in there.”

The former World No. 1 and 2018 Australian Open champion received a wild-card entry into the National Bank Open main draw after retiring in 2020 to start a family.

“It was so strange because I went to bed last night, and I go, ‘wait, so the kids have to wake up, and then we eat breakfast together, and then, wait, how does that fit in with my schedule?’” said Wozniacki of preparing for a match as a mother for the first time.

“And I tried to explain to (2-year-old daughter) Olivia I was going to play a match, and she goes: ‘OK, Mama, I have a wish. I wish you win.’”

Canada’s Leylah Fernandez cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over American qualifier Peyton Stearns in first-round action.

The 20-year-old from Laval, Quebec, barely left the result in doubt, taking control from the beginning and winning the match in 76 minutes in front of a partisan Centre Court crowd that steadily grew throughout the afternoon at IGA Stadium.

It was Fernandez’s first match in front of her hometown crowd since becoming a Grand Slam finalist at the 2021 U.S. Open.

Fernandez, who hit five aces in the match and held serve all but once, started off strong, going on the offensive and breaking Stearn’s serve twice en route to taking the opening set.

“Please come to the next match and cheer me on,” Fernandez told the crowd on court after the victory.

Last time out at the National Bank Open in Montreal in 2021, Fernandez lost in the opening round with the number of fans limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fernandez reached a career-high No. 13 ranking one year ago. Now she’s 81st and looking to climb back up.

“My ranking has dropped which is very, very unfortunate,” said Fernandez in her pre-tournament media availability. “But I think my game has been improving. The results aren’t there, but every training session we’re working hard we’re trying to improve as much as possible.”

In the next round, she’ll face No. 11 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil — who beat Fernandez in the second round in Toronto last year.

American qualifier Danielle Collins needed just 72 minutes to eliminate Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in two sets, 6-2, 6-2 in an earlier match.

Collins, who defeated Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard on Saturday, will next face eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.

Later Tuesday, Bianca Andreescu, of Mississauga, Ontario, was scheduled to meet Italy’s Camilla Giorgi in a battle of two former National Bank Open champions.

The WTA 1000-level tournament runs through Sunday.

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