DUBAI (AFP) - Alicia Molik, who returned to the WTA Tour only this year after a second career-threatening ailment, beat a top 20 player for the first time in three years to reach the second round of the Dubai Open here Sunday. It could even be a landmark moment for the former world number eight from Australia, whose win over Zheng Jie, a semi-finalist in last months Australian Open, suggested she may yet be able to get back to what she was. The 29-year-old has always had a big serve, a threatening forehand, and a rare ability to play well in the forecourt, but Molik has added deeper qualities of tenacity and desire since recovering first from an inner ear infection and more recently from a damaged elbow. Its great just to be fit and healthy, the 29-year-old agreed after her 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 success over the 16th-seeded Chinese player. The match was more than two hours long, and I feel pretty good. Its the first time in a long time that I have had no pains. Its just nice to play and have no issues. Six months ago I had no ranking. I was maybe 2,000 in the world, so I have already achieved a lot, continued Molik, who broke back into the top 200 by playing (lower level) ITF tournaments last year, but still has to play through qualifying events in WTA Tour tournaments. I want to get back to getting straight into main draws, and if can beat a player like Zheng Jie it shows that, on a good night like tonight, I can do that. Strangely, the outcome of the match was most in doubt shortly after Molik had secured a lead of a set and a break of serve early in the second set, and appeared to be motoring to victory. It was then that Zheng signalled to her husband that she was feeling unwell and looked as though she might pull out. Yet from that moment the Chinese player started to make her best progress, taking five successive games and getting into position from which she could sneak the second set despite a Molik fight-back. It appeared that Zhengs predicament might have affected Moliks concentration, but afterwards the Australian denied any knowledge of how her opponent had been feeling. I just go about my business and dont worry about the other person out there, Molik claimed. I was in a position to win almost all the games that I lost. But she just raised her level, and I had to raise mine, which I eventually did. Nevertheless it was a match with plenty of errors, most notable for the courage and assertiveness of Molik, qualities which should give her a chance of further progress. She next plays one of her sparring partners, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, a former top 20 player from Germany, who battled back well to overcome the world number 31 from Russia, Alisa Kleybanova, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.