Fighting fit again, Samantha Stosur has returned to the scene of past highs and a despairing low to kick-start her 2013 claycourt season.
Stosur says she's made a strong recovery from a calf muscle strain that sidelined her for three weeks and is hoping for another big tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, where she won in 2010 before reaching the French Open final less than two months later.
After a slow start to the season, including three first-round losses in Australia, world No.9 Stosur had made three consecutive quarter-finals before the injury halted her momemtum at Indian Wells.
"It's getting better and better each day," Stosur said ahead of her Charleston opener on Thursday (AEDT) against New Zealander Marina Erakovic.
"I'm pretty happy with the progress I've made. I feel like I've really made a big jump the last week or so.
"I'm back out on court practising now and hoping for a good tournament."
Seeded third behind world No.1 and defending champion Serena Williams and Dane Caroline Wozniacki, Stosur last year lost in a semi-final to Williams.
But it was a bitterly disappointing second-round defeat in Charleston in 2011 at the hands of Russian Elena Vesnina that proved a major turning point in the Queenslander's life.
Shattered by her lame showing as titleholder, Stosur drowned her sorrows following that loss and resolved in a tearful heart-to-heart with coach David Taylor to revive her stuttering career.
Five months later, Stosur was a grand slam champion after taming Williams in the US Open final in New York.
"It's great coming back to an event where you know you've done well before," Stosur said.
"Even before I won, I've loved this city. I love coming back here every single time.
"I won the doubles, it seems like many years ago now, and to get back out on that centre court, the fans here, they get right into the tennis and just want to see good matches and to be part of that is something really great."
Erakovic upset Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to book her date with Stosur, who enjoyed a first-round bye.
Stosur is on the opposite side of the draw to Williams and will face either Brit Laura Robson or Canadian Eugenie Bouchard for a place in the quarter-finals should she overcome Erakovic.
Williams opened her title bid on Wednesday with a routine 6-2 6-3 second-round win over Italian Camila Giorgi.
Other winners included ninth seed Jelena Jankovic, 10th seed Julia Goerges and 15th seed Sabine Lisicki.