Dubai - Former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic here on Monday made it clear that she has not given up hope of regaining her former status after making a winning start in the city of her adopted home.
The extrovert Serbian overcame Petra Cetkovska, the Paris-based Czech, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the second round of the WTA Dubai Open, where she once reached the final.
Jankovic was in good form both on and off the court, hitting ground strokes with good rhythm despite the cold conditions, describing her injury problems in some detail, and not missing an opportunity for humour.
"I don't know what's happened to the weather here," she said. "I love it here. But it was very cold and it was windy out there, and it's been a bit crazy with the dust too.
"I have been eating kilos of dust when I've been training. It's not the same as some of the desserts!"
Jankovic also moved fairly well, which was a little surprising since she suffered an injury at the Fed Cup two weeks ago which required heavy bandaging to her left thigh.
"I had a five point five centimetre tear in the muscle, and now it's only a centimetre," she claimed.
"So that's good."
Getting fully fit and remaining so is the key to her climbing from her current world ranking of 14 to challenge for the top spot again, she acknowledged with some force.
"I wish," she said. "It's my biggest wish. But sometimes there are things you can't control."
How far she has controlled her latest ailment, and how likely she is to reach her allotted seeding place in the quarter-finals may be tested more rigorously by her next opponent, Flavia Pennetta.
The Italian won 6-3, 6-3 against Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain, perhaps buoyed by the memory of her conquest here last year of Victoria Azarenka, now the world No 1.
Earlier Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova's hope of challenging for the world number one spot took another blow when she was forced to retire from her second tournament in a row.
The fierce-hitting left-hander from the Czech Republic decided that she had not recovered sufficiently from a virus to take her place in the draw as second seed.
Kvitova also withdrew from last week's Qatar Open in Doha.
It means that there will be a delay in the next episode in her rivalry with Azarenka, whom she has beaten in their last four meetings, and had been seeded to meet in Saturday's final.
Azarenka who won the title in Doha and is unbeaten in all her 17 matches in 2012, begins her campaign to win her fourth successive title on Wednesday against a surprise opponent.
That is Germany's Julia Goerges, who came back from a set and 1-3 down to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, her first victory in three attempts against the former French Open champion from Russia.
Results of the first day of the Dubai WTA Open on Monday (x denotes seeding):
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) bt Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 6-3, 6-3
Julia Georges (GER) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-4
Shahar Peer (ISR) bt Fatma Al Nabhani (OMA) 6-3, 6-1
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) bt Monica Niculescu (ROM) 6-3, 6-0
Jelena Jankovic (SERB) bt Petra Cetkovska (CZECH) 6-2, 6-2