Arina Rodionova’s triumphant comeback at the Brisbane International leaves a lasting impression.

Australia’s Arina Rodionova made a triumphant return to the WTA, causing an upset by defeating Italian Martina Trevisan in their first match at the Brisbane International. The 33-year-old overcame early breaks in both sets to win 6-3 6-2 against Trevisan, who reached a career-high ranking of 18 in May. Rodionova, ranked No.114 in the world, needed a wildcard to participate in her first top-level event in almost two years. After recovering from a wrist injury in 2022, she dominated the lower-tier ITF level this year, winning seven singles titles and 78 matches. In the second round, Rodionova will face former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin from the US.

“Today was so much fun – I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed being on the court this much,” said Rodionova. “After an eight-month break, it was a tough time, but I started playing again last year and have now played over 100 matches. I feel really confident on the court. Don’t take your health for granted – you can see that I’m really having fun out here.”

In another exciting match to start the tennis summer in Brisbane, Alexei Popyrin outlasted Chris O’Connell in a close all-Australian encounter. Popyrin, ranked No.40 in the world, won 6-4 6-7 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) in a first-round battle that lasted over three hours. O’Connell, ranked No.68, put up a strong fight but made a few costly mistakes in the third-set tiebreak which ultimately cost him the match. Popyrin’s powerful serve was never broken, and he expressed admiration for O’Connell’s performance, noting that if he continues playing at that level, he will achieve great things this summer.

Popyrin, who has had a successful 2023, is aiming for deeper runs in grand slams in 2024. He has reached the third round of majors on five occasions but has yet to advance further. His next opponent will be the winner of the match between American Ben Shelton and Russia’s Roman Safiullin.

In other matches, American Sloane Stephens defeated Czech player Katerina Siniakova 7-5 6-3, while Austria’s former US Open champion Dominic Thiem had to fight through qualifying, overcoming Italian Giulio Zeppieri 3-6 6-4 6-4. Thiem also had a moment of excitement in a previous match against Australian James McCabe when play was delayed due to a brown snake on the court. Thiem could potentially face Rafael Nadal in the first round.

Andy Murray and Nadal will also play separate doubles matches before their singles matches on Monday or Tuesday.

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