Kuznetsova marks return with Lugano comeback

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Svetlana Kuznetsova marked her return to the WTA Tour with a fine comeback to beat Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round of the Ladies Open Lugano.

The two-time grand slam champion has been out since September because of a knee injury and appeared poised for defeat in her first match back.

She lost the first set to her Russian compatriot but the 33-year-old's clay-court prowess came to the fore and Kuznetsova took the second set in emphatic fashion.

A frenetic decider went to a tie-break, in which Kuznetsova surged into a 6-2 lead. Alexandrova saved four successive match points but consecutive unforced errors - which took her tally for the match to 70 - allowed Kuznetsova to triumph 3-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

Though sixth seed Alexandrova tumbled out, fourth seed Alison Van Uytvanck survived a scare, recovering after a second-set bagel to prevail 6-2 0-6 6-4 against Tereza Smitkova.

Monday's two other main draw matches also went the distance. Sorana Cirstea fought back from a set down to see off Mona Barthel and Viktorija Golubic did the same in her match with Arantxa Rus.