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Iroda enters main draw, back with bang after three-year layoff

Written by: Staff
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Kolkata, Sep 17 (UNI) Iroda Tulyaganova's assertion that she would not have returned to the WTA tours unless she was sure of doing well reverberated in the majestic venue as she walloped both her opponents in the last two days to make a grand entry into the main draws of Sunfeast Open.

Today she crushed Sandy Gumulya of Indonesia 6-1, 6-3 with a range of strokes that can be remembered and admired at. The result could have been bettered had not a couple of unforced errors forced gave the Indonesian a game in the second set.

Agile, attacking and a fantastic weaponry of returns made her look like she was on song, decimating her opponent in style. Only few players in the WTA Tour would be as unlucky as Tulyaganova.

In 2002 the Uzbek girl was enjoying her career-best singles ranking of 16. She also won gold in the Busan Asian Games that year.

Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina, Jelena Dokic -- she's had career wins over them all.

''I was playing my best tennis of my life. But I think I had overdone it. My bone gave way. It broke and took me three years to rehabilitate,'' she told UNI.

Yesterday she defeated Megha Vakira 6-1, 6-0.

However, the injury to her right elbow forced Iroda out of the circuit for three years starting 2003.

''It feels very sad. I too could have been where these girls are now. I was playing some of my best tennis when the elbow injury meant I couldn't compete for three years. I went through a very hard time. On the financial front too, life was tough. But I guess life's like that,'' Iroda said.

Couched in her entry into the main draw was a quiet warning for her opponents that she was back and if she could have her way back with a bang.

The former junior Wimbledon champion has a different take on life now.

''Now I'm a lot more relaxed. I don't kill myself if I lose a match. I enjoy my tennis a lot more these days.

''I've always been a winner in my life. And, I'm making a comeback not to linger around the Top-100, but to even better my highest ranking of 16. I do see myself ranked within the Top-10 in the world in the future. For the moment though, I'll be happy if I can finish this season inside the Top-200,'' she said.

The Sunfeast Open may be only her sixth tournament in her comeback year, but Iroda has already won the Asian Championships in Tashkent last week and has got herself a wild card for next season's first Grand Slam -- the Australian Open.

''These tournaments are a build-up for the Australian Open. I am looking forward to making every tournament I play count. I would like to do well in Sunfeast, that goes without saying,'' he said.

Now she is also preparing for the Asian Games in Doha.

''The federation is likely to make a camp in Thailand or maybe in Quatar some three weeks before the tourney to get us acclamatised to the heat of the desert city,'' she said.

Iroda lives with her mother, sister, aunt and their two daughters and her dog Chema. ''My house is all women stuff. Call it the gang of Women Mafia. My Chema is the only male in the house,'' she signs off with a genial laughter.

UNI BA AY BD1632

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