If Sunday was all about No. 1 seed Kim Clijsters cruising to victory in the WTA Tour’s season-opener in Brisbane, the hype on Monday was most certainly about the triumphant return of Justine Henin.
The plucky Belgian, playing in her first competitive match since May 2008, dispatched the No. 2-seeded Nadia Petrova in straight sets 7-5, 7-5.
Wildcard Henin dropped just five points on her serve in the first set and only lost three points on her first service in the entire match.
Sure, the rust was there to be seen, but what do you expect from someone who hasn't played in a competitive tournament in 20 months?
The former Grand Slam champion exemplified the adage "form is temporary, class is permanent," breaking serve twice at 5-5 to allow her to serve out both sets of her one-hour 37-minute comeback.
Henin later said that she often plays her best tennis in the tight situations, in case you hadn't heard.
Petrova, however, was not the only women’s seed to fall on day two of the Brisbane International, as Russian Alisa Kleybanova (seeded fifth) went down to compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 in the deciding set.
Fate was not as unkind to Aleksandra Wozniak and Daniela Hantuchova, who both secured their passage to the second round with wins over qualifiers Galina Voskoboeva and Ekaterina Ivanova.
Wozniak took just over an hour to beat the Russian-born Kazakhstani, capitalizing on Voskoboeva’s second serve and taking advantage of the break points that inevitably came her way.
22-year-old Wozniak could be in line to meet Clijsters in the third round if she beats Lucie Safarova on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, No. 3 seed Ana Ivanovic set up a round two encounter with Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky after knocking out Jelena Dokic, who hit almost a dozen double faults in 14 service games.
Warning shots to the seeded women’s players were sounded yesterday when No. 7 Melinda Czink was taken to three sets against unseeded Czech Lucie Hradecka, and eighth seed Iveta Benesova was dumped out by Andrea Petkovia of Germany.
Czink edged Hradecka 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, while Petkovic put a shaky start behind her to come from a set down to beat Benesova 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-1.
With the first round completed, Hantuchova may have the easiest path to the semi finals in the top half of the draw at the Brisbane International, while Ivanovic would not have to meet another seeded player until the finals following the defeats of Petrova and Kleybanova.
Clijsters will be third on the Pat Rafter court on Tuesday against home favourite Alicia Molik. The Aussie—once ranked as high as eighth in the world before retiring—has lost all three meetings with Clijsters, although the last of these was some nine years ago.
In the nightcap, Ana Ivanovic will face Timea Bacsinszky for a spot in the quarterfinals.
On day one of the women’s weaker field at the ASB Classic in Auckland, No. 1-seeded Flavia Pennetta beat American Jill Craybas two-and-four, and wildcard Kimiko Date Krumm brushed by Anna Chakvetadze, dropping only three games to the Russian.
Third-seeded Yanina Wickmayer will await the winner of Tuesday’s match between British qualifier Elena Baltacha and Romanian Ioana Raluca Olaru.
No. 7 Aravane Rezai will face Dominika Cibulkova in round two after the Frenchwoman beat Julie Coin 6-4, 6-3, but Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues became the first seed to fall with a two-and-three loss to Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova.
The other four seeded players will start their season tomorrow, highlighted by No. 2-seeded Na Li’s first match of 2010 against Kaia Kanepi from Estonia.