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Kleybanova makes emotional return to the courts after a long-term illness

Russian tennis player Alisa Kleybanova celebrated her return to the court with a splendid 2:6, 6:3, 6:2 victory over the Swede Johanna Larsson in the first round of WTA Tour in Miami.

The 22-year-old Russian has been undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the last 10 months and lost her place in the Top-20 of the world rankings.

«I was a little bit out of control in the first set,» Kleybanova said. «The first match back from anything is always difficult, but especially this time I really had no idea how it was going to be out there. Tennis-wise I felt pretty good from the beginning but Johanna has a difficult game to play against, she makes you run a lot out there – she makes you tired even if you’re in your best shape.»

«But I’m looking at my matches differently now. It’s my work, but I really just wanted to enjoy every point and every moment. Even when I lost the first set I wanted to stay positive and just enjoy myself out there, and that’s why I was able to stay out there and change the way the match was going.»

«I felt I was playing better the more I was on the court,» she said. «It’s not just about the win though, it’s that I’m back on court. If I didn’t win, it’s not like I would have been mad. I was just happy to be playing points, feeling all the emotions again... it’s something I missed a lot and it was all out there today.»

«For everyone else it’s just the first round, but for me it’s very emotional. I’ll always remember it – it will always be the first match of my comeback.»

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