SONY ERICSSON OPEN
Kleybanova Set To Return After Cancer Treatment
by Peter Holehan|
Welcome back Alisa Kleybanova.
The 22-year-old Russian and former World No. 20 will make her 2012 debut after undergoing chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma up until February and missing nearly 10 months on the court.
A chatty and jovial Kleybanova spoke for over 30 minutes at a press conference Monday at Crandon Park on opening day of the women’s qualifying draw at the Sony Ericsson Open, where she was granted a main draw wildcard entry.
“I really wanted to figure out what was going wrong,” Kleybanova said. “I’m not a person who keeps getting sick. It’s always a disappointment when you train so much and you can’t compete at 100 percent. It’s been hard for me for a pretty long time. On one side, it was a shock. On the other, there must be a reason for why I was feeling like I was. It’s another big fight, which is much tougher than any tournament. It’s going to take a long time. It’s something that I needed to focus on beating.”
Her last appearance came in May during a WTA tour event in Rome, Italy. In her absence, she dropped to a No. 248 ranking.
Her first test will be come from 23-year-old Swedish player Johanna Larsson, who is currently ranked No. 64.
Prior to that, the 5’ 11’’ Kleybanova had shown a rapid ascension in the rankings, climbing from a year-end No. 262 ranking to her career-high of No. 20 in February of last year. Her top Grand Slam performances included fourth-round appearances in both the 2008 Wimbledon Championships and the 2009 Australian Open.
Even with 234 career victories and a pair of WTA women’s singles titles, Kleybanova kept things in perspective.
“I’m just very happy that I’m here and that I’m able to play again. And, I’m feeling healthy and having fun again,” Kleybanova said. “It’s not the most important thing in my life anymore. So I’m just going to try to enjoy every day that I’m on the court. I really hope to be back in the same condition and even better than I was before.”
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