Grand slam dream a light in dark days

PARIS - Guillermo Canas insisted yesterday that even during the darkest days of his drugs ban he always knew he would return to play another grand slam.

PARIS - Guillermo Canas insisted yesterday that even during the darkest days of his drugs ban he always knew he would return to play another grand slam.

The 29-year-old Argentinian was hit with a two-year drugs ban in August 2005 which was eventually reduced to 15 months on appeal.

While he was out, his ranking slipped to 514 from a career high of eight and his return to this year's French Open marks his first grand slam appearance for two years.

"It's great to be back and playing a grand slam after my suspension," said Canas, who has battled his way back to 22 in the world and is seeded 19 in Paris.

Yesterday, he opened his campaign with a 6-3 6-1 6-4 win over Romania's Victor Hanescu.

"I always knew I would play again at a grand slam tournament," he said.

"I just didn't know when. So I'm happy to be able to play at the level of a grand slam again."

Canas, who was suspended from the sport after testing positive for a banned diuretic he was given in a medicine by staff at the Mexican Open in February 2005, has enjoyed a formidable 2007.

He started the year at 148 in the world, captured his eighth career title at Costa de Sauipe in Brazil before beating world No. 1 one Roger Federer at back-to-back Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami.

He went on to make the final in Florida. - Sapa-AFP

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