Indian Wells, California: Justin Henin beat Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-2, 6-2, in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday, her first competitive match since a surprising run to the Australian Open final in January.
Henin, who is playing in this tournament for the first time since 2006, held the No. 1 ranking when she unexpectedly retired in May, 2008.
She returned to the tour this year and was runner-up at the Brisbane International and again at the Australian Open in her first two tournaments back.
After being idle since the Australian Open final, Henin didn't serve well at just 48 percent, but won 20 of 26 first-serve points and saved the four break points against her in the 68-minute match.
"It was a very good feeling. This is a tournament I like a lot," said Henin, who will meet Gisela Dulko of Argentina in the second round. "It's been a break of one month with no competition so I was glad the way I went into the match today. Not everything was perfect, but I found a pretty good rhythm and felt I could go a lot to the net and I felt really good on the court, actually."
Unranked after her lengthy absence, Henin took a wild-card entry into this $4.5 million event and is one of six former champions in the 96-player field _ although only two of them are on the bottom half of the draw.
Top-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova is in the top half with former champions Kim Clijsters (2003, 2005), Daniela Hantuchova (2002, 2007), Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Vera Zvonareva (2009).
Henin said when she began her comeback she felt it would take four or five months to be at her best physically and mentally, and her run to the Australian Open final didn't change that.
"I still think I need a few more tournaments," the seven-time Grand Slam title winner said. "In Australia I proved to myself that I could make it, that I didn't really need a lot of competition to be at a pretty good level. But I see further than that. For the French Open and Wimbledon I hope I can be at my best level.
"I need to get used just to being back on tour. That's not that easy, to find a rhythm, to really find my place. I still have to build my confidence, I have to win matches, I have to feel strong enough mentally and physically."
Others moving into the second round were Vania King, who beat Christina McHale, 7-5, 6-3, in an all-American match; Virginie Razzano of France, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Kristina Barrios of Germany; Kimiko Date Krumm of Japan, who beat Melinda Czink of Hungary, 6-2, 6-2; Great Britain's Elena Baltacha, a 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4 winner over Alexa Glatch of the U.S.; Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand, who toppled Edina Gallovits of Romania, 6-2, 6-3; and Polona Hercog of Slovakia, with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Romania's Ioana Raluca Olaru.