EASTBOURNE, England, June 17 (Reuters) - Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka made a disappointing return from injury when she lost to plucky Italian Camila Giorgi 4-6 6-3 7-5 in the first round of the Aegon International grasscourt tournament on Tuesday.
Playing only her second match since her quarter-final loss in the Australian Open in January because of a persistent foot injury, the fourth-seeded Belarusian showed her usual grit but looked rusty as she was bundled out of the Wimbledon warm-up event on England's south coast.
The twice Australian Open champion had hoped to gain some match practice on grass ahead of next week's Wimbledon with a wildcard entry in Eastbourne but came up against an inspired Gorigi crashed out with an indifferent display against Giorgi.
Azarenka, whose only other match since the Australian Open was in March at Indian Wells, battled back from 4-2 down to win the first set but quickly tired against her aggressive opponent.
The Italian seized the initiative and the second set, and after winning an epic game to move 6-5 ahead in the third she secured an unforeseen, if not surprising, three-set victory.
Azarenka's defeat followed that of top seed Agnieszka Radwanska the previous day. (Writing by Sam Holden; editing by Martyn Herman)