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Victory In Defeat For Bubka

Melbourne, Australia

Bubka© Robert DavisSergei Bubka returns to competition 14 months after sustaining injuries from a fall.

For Sergei Bubka Jr., just walking onto the court for his first-round qualifying match against Valery Rudnev Wednesday at the Australian Open was victory enough.

It was 14 months ago that his world came crashing down after he fell through a fourth-floor Paris apartment window and suffered multiple fractures. He knows that he is lucky to be alive and even luckier to be able to play the game of tennis again.

“Before my accident I played tennis only because I loved playing,” admits Bubka. “When I was in therapy and trying to get back in shape and dealing with all the setbacks I realised how much I missed the game and the life of a tennis player. I wanted to get back as soon as possible. And I pushed hard for the Australian Open.”

“My father [pole vaulting legend Sergei Bubka] did not want me to play just yet because he was worried that I might re-injure myself,” says the Ukraine native. “My coach [Jack Reader] was worried that I was trying to play too soon. But I passed the physio’s test and I really wanted to play.”

Bubka, who reached a career-high No. 145 in 2011, now has an aluminum rod in place of a femur bone and another aluminum rod in his forearm. Months spent hobbling on crutches and extensive therapy has left him with a pronounced limp.

“Our main concern was his long-term rehabilitation,” says Reader. “We had him fully checked out to make sure there was no chance that he might interrupt the healing process. He is far from being match-ready, but I understand the significance of him wanting to be out here playing today. Good on him for making it back. He is a special kid and I am excited to be with him."

Cheering Bubka on in the stands were tennis friends and former coaches from Ukraine, Russia and France. Bubka lost to Rudnev 6-4, 7-6(3).

“For me the best part of the match was that [Bubka] came off the court with no aches or pains,” says Reader. “Now we can really get down to business and get to work.”

“I know that I have a long way to go still,” said the 26 year old “But I needed this today. I hope my family and team are happy with my effort. And I want to thank them for all their support through this difficult time.”

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