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Wozniacki wins WTA return match after layoff since 2020

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki made a triumphant comeback in her return to competition after a layoff of more than three years at the WTA Montreal Open on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old Danish star defeated 115th-ranked Kimberly Birrell of Australia 6-2, 6-2 in her comeback match at the hardcourt event, a tuneup for the US Open, which starts on August 28 in New York.

“It feels great,” Wozniacki said. “It has been my first match back in over three years. I was definitely a little rusty.”

Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open champion, retired after a third-round loss at the 2020 Australian Open. She gave birth to two children and became a television commentator, her WTA playing days seemingly complete.

But Wozniacki announced in June she was making a comeback and received wildcard entries into Montreal and next week’s Cincinnati tournament as stepping stones to the US Open, where she was runner-up in 2009 and 2014.

Before her retirement, Wozniacki won 30 titles and 635 career matches. She spent 71 weeks atop the rankings.

Now she has her first match victory as a mother.

“That’s pretty crazy,” she said. “I was just looking at the clock actually. My kids are napping right now which is awesome. So I’m going to catch them after I do a little bit of treatment and food and stuff.

“That’s the good part of playing early. I still have the afternoon with them.”

Wozniacki dropped the opening game but rallied to capture the final four games of the opening set, the last on a Birrell double fault after 43 minutes.

Wozniacki broke for a 4-2 edge in the second set, held for a 5-2 lead and broke again on a backhand winner to secure the victory after 97 minutes, raising her arms skyward with a smile of delight at her achievement.

“What an amazing place to come back and play my first match. I love playing here in Montreal,” she said as the crowd roared.

Her second-round opponent will be the winner of a later match between 10th-ranked Czech Marketa Vondrousova and Egypt’s 33rd-ranked Mayar Sherif.

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