I was checking the order of play for yesterday’s matches at the Sacramento Challenger on Monday night and spotted the name Robert Kendrick. Couldn’t be the Robert Kendrick I remembered. The hulking, 6-foot-3 serve and volleyer who was one of the last floaters any seeded player ever wanted to meet in the early rounds of a tournament. The guy who in 2006 had Rafael Nadal down two sets in the first round at Wimbledon before the Spaniard rallied to win a tight five-setter. Surely it was a different Robert Kendrick, because the one I knew was retired, or so I thought. A quick search of the ATP World Tour website indicated Robert Kendrick was Inactive, in other words retired. Curiosity drove me to tune in to the day’s live stream. It was in fact the Robert Kendrick I remembered and he was playing his first match since last July, when he said farewell to pro tennis. Kendrick’s retirement had been precipitated to a large degree by a doping violation in 2011 which led to an 8-month suspension. The substance in question, methylhexaneamine, a stimulant, was contained in an anti-jetlag capsule. Kendrick denied any intent to enhance his performance as a result of taking the drug, but the suspension stuck, albeit reduced from 12 months upon appeal. After returning to competition in January 2012, Kendrick played for six months primarily on the Challenger circuit and qualified just once for the main draw of a Tour event. At that point Kendrick, who had reached a career-high No. 69 ranking in 2009, decided to pack it in. Yesterday, the 33-year-old American was pitted against 17-year-old Australian hot-shot junior, Thanasi Kokkinakis. Kendrick got a wild card into the main draw. It helped that the tournament director is a good friend. The commentator for the match was clueless what Kendrick was up to or what he’d been doing during his 15-month retirement. Was it a comeback or just a one-and-done stunt? It soon became apparent that Kendrick can still play. Big serves, thumping forehands, sharp volleys and down-the-line backhand passes held the strapping Aussie youngster at bay. Surely the Californian had been playing somewhere and practicing against somebody. Kendrick served five aces and saved all four of the break points against his serve to force a first-set tiebreaker. Kokkinakis’ seventh ace at 6-5 in the breaker sealed the opening set. Despite losing his serve in the first game of the second set, Kendrick broke right back. Rust started to catch up with the big guy when he double-faulted on break point at 3-3, and again when he missed an easy overhead at 30-30, 3-5 before dropping serve. Kokkinakis won 7-6 (5), 6-3. Still it was a respectable performance from the American — nine aces, one double fault and generally solid play. As for what lies ahead, no word on that.