Casey and Alicia start with a win

West Australian Casey Dellacqua is confident her “brand new shoulder” will hold up to the rigours of professional tennis as she embarks on her latest return from injury.

Dellacqua made her long-awaited return to the court on Tuesday, teaming with fellow comeback kid Alicia Molik in the doubles of WA’s Cliffs Esperance International.

The pair easily won through to the second round with a 6-3 7-6 win over Tyra Calderwood and Monika Wejnert.

Dellacqua had also initially planned to take part in the singles as well but withdrew due to lingering foot complaint that she didn’t want to risk.

However, the former world No.39 has fully recovered from the shoulder reconstruction she underwent in February and said she was pain free in the troublesome joint for the first time in years.

“I was doing all my rehab pretty much every day and sometimes twice a day, just focusing on getting it stronger,” Dellacqua said.

“So it’s like a brand new shoulder for me, I can’t remember the last time I played with no pain.

“It’s nice to be pain free.

“The main thing was the progression and making sure I didn’t do too much too soon.

“Everything’s feeling perfect, my shoulder’s feeling great now.”

Dellacqua reached a career-high ranking of 39 in the world last year but has seen that plummet to 1001 following her injury lay-off, although her protected ranking of 80 will gain her automatic entry into eight WTA events next year as well as a grand slam.

She has now set her sights on cracking back into the top 100 by the end of next year.

“After Wimbledon last year I was at 39 and really feeling good and was beating a lot of the top girls,” she said.

“I got to that point before so I don’t feel like there’s any reason why I can’t get back there.

“I guess the main thing for me now is to ease back into things and my main focus will be to get inside the top 100 and then I’ll re-set my goals.

“It’s exciting to be back. It’s been a long year for me and it’s good to feel like a tournament player again.”

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