Kim Clijsters in action. (Source: Twitter)
Four-time Grand Slam-winning Kim Clijsters returned to the professional circuit Monday after nearly eight years, competing in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. However, she failed to make it past the first round losing 6-2, 7-6(6) to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.
What a match 🎾 @GarbiMuguruza advances to the next round after defeating former World No.1 Kim Clijsters, 6-2, 7-6(6) #DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/5vg9G5Zgqi
— Dubai Tennis Champs (@DDFTennis) February 17, 2020
The 36-year-old Belgian, who has won three US Open titles and an Australian Open title, could not match the pace and agility of the 26-year-old Muruguza who hit 19 winners along the way. The former world no. 1 finished with 10 double faults and 23 unforced errors.
But, it was not all gloom and doom for the Belgian as she came up with few flashes of brilliance to keep the Spaniard at bay in the early stages. Known for her superior on-court movement and rallying, Clijsters relied on baseline rallies and her powerful forehand to hit winners against her opponent.
“I had a good feeling out there,” she told reporters at the Duty Free Tennis Championships. “I do feel a little bit of, I’m not going to say relief, but a feeling of the pace I can handle.
.@Clijsterskim ends a phenomenal rally at the net 🤩#DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/D4OKRRgEBz
— WTA (@WTA) February 17, 2020
“I felt like for a while I was dominating some of the points… the way I was able to get back into that second set, with the type of tennis I played, it’s something that is positive. I’ll take that with me for the next matches,” she said.
After being broken in her first serve, it was downhill for Clijsters in the first set as fatigue seemed to gradually take a toll on her. In the second set, she rose above her growing tally of double faults and broke Muruguza twice to level at 4-4.
Just listen to this crowd 🗣️@Clijsterskim saves 2 break points and eventually holds serve.#DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/TfoWhd0NJW
— WTA (@WTA) February 17, 2020
But Muguruza quickly recovered to take the set to a tiebreak and, despite Clijsters’ best efforts to take the match to the deciding set, the Spaniard won with her second match point.
“It was a special match, she’s back and she’s an incredible player. I was happy to be the one to face her,” ninth seeded Muguruza, who reached the Australian Open final earlier this month, said in a post-match interview.
This is Clijsters’ second comeback. She first retired from tennis in 2007, taking a break to have the first of her three children, but returned within 24 months to claim three of her four Grand Slams and was at the top of women’s rankings in 2011.
Serena Williams, the winner of 23 Grand Slams, tweeted after Clijsters’ comeback and wrote, “Wow. Just wow.” Simona Halep also tweeted in support and others on social media also praised the Belgian for her return.
Seriously so so so proud of Kim Clijsters. You inspire me. Wow. Just wow congrats you did amazing.
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) February 18, 2020
Welcome back @Clijsterskim 🤗@DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/D3cdXzqO2h
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) February 16, 2020
Garbiñe Muguruza defeats Kim Clijsters 6-2, 7-6 (6). But if you didn’t know, never would have guessed that Clijsters, 36, had been away from the tour for over 7 years. Still a world-class ball striker. Lots to work on, including her second serve. But lots to feel good about, too
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 17, 2020
My tennis wishlist for 2020:
Serena vs Clijsters.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) February 17, 2020
In a battle of former world number ones and multiple Grand Slam champions, Garbiñe Muguruza welcomes back Kim Clijsters with a 6-2, 7-6(6) win to reach the 2nd round in Dubai.Also ReadWatch: Jannik Sinner wins a 46-shot rally against Tommy PaulNovak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz set to meet again in group stage of Dav...Does Steffi Graf ever age? Husband Andre Agassi has the perfect reply'Never been friends, never been close to Roger Federer': Novak Djokovic s...Advertisement
That was very, very impressive from the Belgium after 7.5years out.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 17, 2020
Keep blinking again and again to make sure that’s Kim Clijsters on court at a WTA event in 2020. It’s fantastic to see. Her fight has been phenomenal today. I’m so impressed.
— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) February 17, 2020
(with Reuters inputs)© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd