This time last year, Caroline Wozniacki was on holiday in "quite a few places", her season over after losing in the quarter-finals of the Luxembourg Open and her eventual year-end ranking No. 19.
Now the Dane, whose comeback continues, remains in contention for the top ranking after powering past Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-0 in her first match at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore yesterday.
It was the sixth-ranked Wozniacki's first career win over Finals debutante Svitolina, who had been triumphant in all three of their previous meetings, including two finals this year.
"I'm just happy to be through and it doesn't matter if it's Elina or someone else, I'm just happy to have won," said a smiling Wozniacki at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. This is her first appearance at the US$7 million (S$9.54 million) season finale presented by SC Global since 2014, having failed to qualify for the previous two editions.
"Both (being on vacation and competing) are great, but I'm very happy to be here and be playing and competing at this stage."
Last year was an injury-plagued one that saw her ranking plummet to as low as 74 after she missed the entire clay season with a right ankle injury. Wozniacki, who reached seven finals and won one title this season, said: "I have been playing very well this year and consistently, but the main thing is that I have stayed healthy all year and that's really allowed me to play my best tennis and work hard."
The 27-year-old was the steadier of the two last night, hitting just five unforced errors to Svitolina's 18.
At 2-2 in the first set, Wozniacki won 10 games in a row to take the match as errors continued to fly off Svitolina's racket.
A disappointed Svitolina later said: "My game was all over the place today so she didn't really have to do anything special because I was making lots of unforced errors, I was missing the court by miles."
The world No. 4 will face fellow WTA Finals debutante Caroline Garcia tomorrow. World No. 9 Garcia also lost yesterday, falling to top-ranked Simona Halep 4-6, 2-6.
Halep had led their head-to-head 2-1, but Frenchwoman Garcia won their last encounter two weeks ago in the final of the China Open.
Garcia, 24, had arrived in Singapore with an 11-match winning streak and back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing under her belt.
Halep last beat Garcia at the Rogers Cup in August, and the Romanian said she had kept that victory in mind yesterday.
"Today I think I played similar to that match, I just felt that at the beginning she was very consistent and very strong," added the 26-year-old top seed. "But in the second set I already started to feel that I was dominating the match and I got more confident."
WTA FINALS Day 3: StarHub Ch203, 7.30pm