Pattaya - Two-time champion Vera Zvonareva was through to the second round of the Pattaya Open on Tuesday, claiming the first victory of her comeback following an 18-month absence from the game due to illness and injury.
The Russian won 6-3, 6-2 over the tenacious Peangtan Plipuech of Thailand, who saved 14 of 19 break points she faced and engaged Zvonareva in some lengthy rallies to stretch the match to one hour 42-minutes.
Both top-seeded German Sabine Lisicki and second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia withdrew with injury, and sixth-seeded Spaniard Garbie Muguruza was beaten 6-7 (2), 7-5, 7-6 (6) by 43-year old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan.
But there were victories for Romanian third seed Sorana Cirstea as well as Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina from Russia.
Zvonareva, who has been out of the game due to an upper respiratory illness and a right shoulder injury, is playing only her third event since Wimbledon 2012.
Earlier this month the 29-year-old Russian, who required surgery on her shoulder, lost her opening round matches in Shenzhen and at the Australian Open, so her win in Pattaya came as a relief.
"I'm just so happy... I haven't expected anything from myself. I just wanted to go out and try to focus, try to fight for every ball," said Zvonareva.
"After such a long time it is very difficult, not game-wise but mentally, to stay focused for a long period of time," she said.
Zvonareva continues to wear strapping on her shoulder and admitted that the injury is still at the back of her mind.
"I wouldn't say I'm worried, but I'm hesitating a little bit on certain shots," she said.
"It's still a little bit mental obviously, after you have surgery. I know I will never have the same shoulder I had before so I'll just have to get used to that feeling."
Lisicki had struggled in her first round match on Monday, taking two hours to overcome Croatia's Donna Vekic in three sets, and admitted after the match that it had been almost impossible for her to serve effectively.
"It was pretty obvious I wasn't able to serve in the second and third sets," she said on Tuesday.
"I tried everything and won the match yesterday and was hoping it could get better overnight, but unfortunately it didn't.
"Now the first plan is for me to get healthy again. I will see my doctors at home and make plans from there."
Kuznetsova also later withdrew, citing a left hip injury.
"I would like to play more but my injury got worse last night.
"I have to protect my body and to recover as soon as possible," she said.
Zvonareva won the Pattaya Open in 2009 and 2010.
In 2011 she fell in the semi-finals to eventual champion Daniela Hantuchova and in 2012 to Sorana Cirstea in the quarter-finals.
Results from the second day of the WTA Pattaya Open on Tuesday (x denotes seeding):
First round singles:
Julia Goerges (GER) bt Luksika Kumkhum (THA) 6-4, 6-4
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) bt Peangtarn Plipuech (THA) 6-3, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS-4) bt Olga Savchuk (UKR) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU-x3) bt Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-1, 6-3
Nicha Lertpitaksinchai (THA) bt Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 6-3, 6-3
Elena Vesnina (RUS-x5) bt Vania King (USA) 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-1
Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) bt Garbie Muguruza (ESP-x6) 6-7 (2), 7-5, 7-6 (6)
Tadeja Majeric (SLO) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 6-2, 7-6 (4)
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-4
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) 6-4, 7-5