Elena Dementieva battled a shaky serve and frigid weather _ including snow flakes _ to beat Meilen Tu 6-7 (5), 6-0, 7-5 in the first round of the J&S Cup on Tuesday.
"They were extremely difficult conditions, it was freezing out there and also the snow, it was a new experience in my life," Dementieva said. "It was a very tough match for me."
Both players wore pants and long-sleeve shirts on a windy 9 degree C (48 F) day that saw snow flakes fall on the red-clay court.
The seventh-seeded Dementieva and her American opponent struggled to hold serve throughout the match. The first set alone had 10 breaks, the last by Tu to force the tiebreaker.
The Russian pulled out in the second round of Antwerp in February with stress fracture of the ribs, and she had only started training again two weeks ago.
"I always have some problems with my serve, but coming back after three broken ribs and not playing for eight weeks, it's really difficult," Dementieva said. "It takes some time to get everything back."
Dementieva's serve was better in the second set, but the third was almost a repeat of the first set.
Tu broke to lead 5-4 when Dementieva knocked a running forehand wide and served for the match. But Dementieva won the next three games, surviving two breakpoints in the process, to close it out.
Also Tuesday, Elena Vesnina beat Urszula Radwanska 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3; Agnieszka Radwanska downed Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 6-1; Julia Vakulenko defeated Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 6-1; Kateryna Bondarenko beat Tamira Paszek Austria 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-1; Tathiana Garbin beat Laura Granville 6-4, 6-2; and Anna-Lena Groenefeld eased past Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-4.
Venus Williams' match with Michaella Krajicek was pushed back until Wednesday due to darkness.