Rebecca Marino’s comeback is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful stories of the season. On Saturday, the Canadian took a giant step in her return as she came back from a set down to defeat Vera Lapko 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Montreal qualifications.

For Marino, it was the best win of her comeback, so far, against the 69th player in the world. A performance that will, without a doubt, give her a big confidence boost, despite a tight two-set defeat in the final round, a 7-5, 6-4 loss to the hands of world N°53 Wang Qiang.

A stellar comeback after an absence of five years

Since returning to competition, in February, the Toronto native has won three consecutive tournaments, in Antalya (Turkey), her first three events in five years, as well as the Winnipeg Pro Circuit event in July. She was also runner-up in Osaka in April.

“[My comeback] has gone better than I expected, better than anyone expected. After five years, you don’t know what to expect.”

– Rebecca Marino

For Marino, it was important to start from the bottom and climb her way up: “You can’t really recreate match play in your practices. Having a lot of matches at the beginning and slowly make my way up was super important.”

A different view for Marino

“I’m happy to just be in a tournament and having the chance to come back and play. I have a lot of gratitude.”

– Rebecca Marino

Admitting to still being in a learning process, the 27-year-old also stated that she now sees things differently than she did prior to her long break from the game. “I think I just have a greater appreciation through every match and in this entire process.”

Seeing things differently does not mean, in any way, that Marino does not react to her defeats, as she showed on Sunday, visibly still angry with herself for not having taken her chances against Wang.

Yet, she sees the positives of her defeat and of the match she played. “For me, it’s just a part of the experience of being against players like that again, and I will definitely put it in my back pocket, remember it, and learn from that”, she said following the match.

Refusing to set a ranking goal for herself until next February, Rebecca Marino will continue her inspiring return to competitive tennis at her own rhythm. If it is half as positive than the last six months have been, she will be back on top of her game in no time.