Bartoli returns with win at Dubai

Marion Bartoli beat Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan 7-6 (8), 6-4 in the first round at the Dubai Tennis Championship on Monday, only four days after resuming practice following an injury at the Australian Open.

The Frenchwoman had been out since tearing a calf muscle in a second-round loss on Jan. 19 in Melbourne. She called it the worst injury of her career after being unable to walk for two weeks. Intense rehabilitation, including some work in the pool, enabled her to return quicker than expected.

”I put everything about what happened in the past and I just focused on what’s going on in the present,” she said. ”I knew it would be hard. I knew I wouldn’t play my best, but I fought.”

Bartoli jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set before the 40-year-old Krumm fought back to force a tiebreaker.

Krumm double-faulted to trail 4-3 in the second set after having traded breaks with Bartoli, who broke two games later to clinch the win.

”You can’t really hit any winners against her. She finds some great angles,” Bartoli said. ”So it’s never over against her.”

The 16th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Nuria Llagostera Vives 6-4, 6-2, Chanelle Scheepers swept aside Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-2 and Alisa Kleybanova rallied to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

”It was so cold out there. I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could,” Kuznetsova said. ”It was tough. She had nothing to lose. But I’m a better player and I should win it as I did.”

Shahar Peer of Israel, once denied a visa to play at the Dubai Tennis Championship, teamed up with Monica Niculescu of Romania to win their opening doubles match.

Authorities had cited safety reasons for preventing Peer from playing in 2009, saying they feared angry scenes over Israel’s three-week military offensive in Gaza. Organizers were fined $300,000 by the WTA and required to open the event to all qualifying players.

Peer played last year amid tight security, making a surprising run to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Venus Williams. The Israeli starts her singles campaign on Tuesday.

Police were posted around the stadium Monday as 20 fans watched Peer’s match. Metal detectors were also installed outside several of the entrances.