Awaiting the Friday’s semifinals of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, which will feature third seed Petra Kvitova vs. Elina Svitolina and sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard vs. eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki, I’d like to mention this week’s Red Rock Pro Open in Las Vegas, a USTA women’s $50,000 Pro Circuit Challenger tournament that has gathered a bunch of comeback players, most notably Nicole Vaidisova and Kateryna Bondarenko.
After a failed marriage and numerous surgeries that had kept her away from tennis for four and a half years, 25-year-old Nicole Vaidisova started her comeback earlier this month in Albuquerque, where she won one match, and this week in Las Vegas she has continued her return to the world of competitive tennis, this time putting two wins under her belt (two, so far!). In the first round Vaidisova beat Alexa Glatch, who was playing her first main draw match since losing in the first round to Christina McHale at Wimbledon in 2013, while on Thursday Vaidisova recorded a 6-0 6-2 victory over Veronica Cepede Royg.
Another high-profile name on a comeback trail in Las Vegas is Kateryna Bondarenko, now a 28-year-old mother of an infant child, who decided not to use her protected ranking, went through three qualifying matches, on Wednesday survived two set points down 6-4 in the first-set tiebreaker to record a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over the 19-year-old top seed Tereza Smitkova, and today she continued the progress with an entertaining 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory over Caitlin Whoriskey.
The former world No. 29 Ukrainian was a quarterfinalist at the 2009 US Open and has career wins over Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Elena Dementieva and Li Na, as well as more than $2 million in career prize money.
At the 2012 US Open, Bonderanko lost in the first round to Jelena Jankovic, winning just three games. After the match, Bonderanko mentioned to her husband that she just didn’t feel right during the match. That something was off. She found out a month later back in her homeland that she was two months pregnant.
After 20 months off the tour, Bonderanko made her return in the spring of this year and has used her protected world ranking of No. 137 to get into some WTA events in Europe, and even played the French Open qualifying. (photo: © Neal Trousdale)