AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP)—Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer made a winning return to the WTA Tour on Monday after her ban for anti-doping violations was lifted, beating Germany's Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the ASB Classic.
Wickmayer was banned for one year in November, along with compatriot Xavier Malisse, for failing on three occasions to report her whereabouts to drug testers under World Anti-Doping Agency regulations.
A Belgian civil court lifted the bans on Wickmayer and Malisse on Dec. 16 pending appeals against their suspensions.
Wickmayer entered the Auckland tournament on a wild card and is the No. 3 seed.
The Belgian broke Goerges in the fifth and seventh games to take the first set in 38 minutes, but gave up an early break in a second set which lasted almost an hour. Wickmayer broke Goerges in the fifth game to lead 3-2 but Goerges broke back in the 10th game to tie the second set at 5-5.
Wickmayer immediately regained the break at 6-5 and trailed 15-30 and 30-40 in the 11th game before winning on her second match point.
It was a tough first match,'' Wickmayer said.It's been a tough time for me, so it was really nice for me to be on court again and compete.''
Wickmayer last week blamed a breakdown in communication with Belgian doping officials for her one year ban. Her rise during 2009 into the world's top 50 brought her under WADA's regulations which require athletes to report their whereabouts to drug testers 365 days a year.
Wickmayer, who has never failed or missed a drug test, said Belgian officials sent papers indicating she was in breach of the whereabouts rule to her home in Belgium while she was in Australia.
Top-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy started her 2010 season with a 6-2, 6-4 win over American veteran Jill Craybas. Pennetta won the first set in 33 minutes but lost an early service break before taking the second in 37 minutes.
I'm really happy because always the first match is tough,'' Pennetta said.I was nervous because it's the first match of the year and everyone expects so much of me.''
Former world No. 4 Kimiko Date Krumm of Japan, who is playing in Auckland as a wild card, beat former No. 5 Anna Chakvetadze of Russia 6-1, 6-2. Date Krumm, 39, returned to top tennis in 2008 after retiring in 1996.
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, who was sidelined for the second half of 2009 with a rib injury and is unseeded on her ranking of 28, beat Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 6-0, 6-3.