Stuttgart: Four-times French Open champion Justine Henin overcame a broken finger and fired-up German opponent to win her opening match at Stuttgart on Wednesday, her first clay court tournament since her comeback.
The 27-year-old was taken to a tiebreak in the first set before breaking Julia Goerges` resistance in the second for a 7-6, 6-1 first-round win.
Henin, finalist in the Australian Open in January in only her second tournament back after a break of nearly two years, is gearing up for her first visit to her favourite venue at Roland Garros since her self-imposed exile from the game.
Her last appearance in Paris was in 2007 when she won her fourth title there.
The Belgian, a wild card for the event, battled through the match wearing a splint on her little left finger which she broke in training last week.
"The improvement is pretty good, even if my finger is not yet beautiful, it`s still really blue but the pain is a lot less and that`s a nice feeling," Henin, who has already climbed to 24th in the rankings, told reporters.
"I have started to get used to the splint during the match so I felt better today."
"It was a tough first set, she was on fire, serving pretty well and being pretty aggressive and you slide a lot on this court, when you`re on the defensive it`s not easy to come back onto the court."
"I was much more aggressive in the second set and I was more into the game, she had nothing to lose and went for everything."
"I didn`t play for two years so I`m just trying to find the balance with my game," said Henin who, among other things, took part in a reality show on Belgian television during her sabbatical.
"I need matches before the French Open, that`s for sure, everything I`ve done since the beginning of the season has been pretty good. I`m just trying to get used to my career again."
"It`s good to play matches, that`s what I need, it`s good to be back."
World number two Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark is top seed.
Agnieszka Radwanska (5) became the first seed to go out when she lost to Israel`s Shahar Peer, who won 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.