DOHA // Caroline Wozniacki produced the most stunning of comebacks last night to make a winning debut in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championships after looking on the way to a crushing defeat at the hands of close friend Victoria Azarenka. The Danish teenager fought back from the loss of the most one-sided of opening sets to prevail 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a thrilling battle that spanned three fluctuating hours. Azarenka, the explosive Belarussian, squandered a match point a few minutes before losing her composure and incurring a crucial penalty point for a second code violation that allowed Wozniacki to serve out for the match.
Wozniacki had arrived at the championships with doubts over her fitness after controversially retiring in Luxembourg last week when she led local hope Anne Kremer 7-5, 5-0. The Danish teenager explained that she had withdrawn from the tournament because her damaged left thigh would not have been able to survive another match the next day and that she considered it the "sporting" option to allow a grateful Kremer to progress.
The WTA authorities have accepted that but Wozniacki's unusual actions prompted an investigation by those connected with the gambling industry which is still pending even though it has become generally accepted that the youngster acted in good faith. Wozniacki, who reached her first grand slam final at the US Open last month, wore heavy strapping on the injury in Doha last night for the first of what she hoped will be five matches at the end-of-season showdown between the world's top eight.
Initially the bandages looked like a signal that another premature ending was on the cards as Azarenka swept her off court to romp through the opening set in only 29 minutes. The Dane has not risen to fourth in the world without showing resilience, however, and she fully demonstrated those qualities by turning round a remarkable encounter.