Jelena Dokic, the former world No 4, arrived in New Zealand yesterday to begin her competitive preparations for next month's Australian Open.
Dokic, who returned to Australia earlier this month after acrimoniously leaving her adopted homeland in 2001, has been granted a wild card for next week's Auckland Open.
She has already won a qualifying wild card for the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam, which starts on 16 January.
"It's important just to get some matches in - that's my main goal," said Dokic, who was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, and had represented Serbia and Montenegro after leaving Australia. "The first match will be the toughest. I haven't had the feel of a tournament for a long time."
The 22-year-old, whose ranking has slipped to 349, last played a tournament in August and a WTA tour event in May. "I'm trying to come back, which isn't easy. But I'm really happy to be playing again and that's why I chose this tournament. I really like it here and I think I can play well."
Dokic, who has not played at the Australian Open since 2001, when her father, Damir, claimed the draw was rigged against her, won a wild card for the Grand Slam last week in Melbourne."I had four matches there and that has given me quite a bit of confidence," she said.