Kim Clijsters managed to push Muguruza to the tiebreaker of the second set for his return. - YORICK JANSENS / Belga / Sipa USA / SIPA
Back on the courts after seven years of absence, the ex-world No.1 Kim Clijsters lost 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) against the Spanish Garbine Muguruza, 16th world, but posted a level full of promise on Monday in the first round of the Dubai tournament. For his comeback, the former Belgian champion inherited an opponent up to the task: former world N.1 and winner of two Grand Slam tournaments, Muguruza reached the Australian Open final in January.
Do not adjust your screen, it's not mid-2000s archive - that is indeed Kim Clijsters back in action on the WTA Tour. The 36-year-old Belgian, who retired after the 2012 US Open, has made her comeback in Dubai - losing out to Garbiñe Muguruza (unlucky first round draw, to be fair) pic.twitter.com/FRaP2rPAXO- Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) February 17, 2020
First match since 2012
Clijsters had moved away from the courts for the first time at the end of 2007. On her return, two years and a pregnancy later, she had impressed everyone: quarter-final at Cincinnatti, eighth in Montreal then title at the US Open, a resounding feat. But she was then 26 years old. Now a mother of three and 36, she has not played a professional match since her elimination in the second round of the US Open 2012.
Faced with Muguruza, she first appeared less mobile than in her prime, her forehand seemed disrupted ... and her opponent did not help her by chaining powerful services and winning shots, and clearly taking the lead.
Just listen to this crowd 🗣️ @ Clijsterskim saves 2 break points and eventually holds serve. # DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/TfoWhd0NJW- WTA (@WTA) February 17, 2020
It was carried out 6-2, 3-0 that Clijsters began to make successes worthy of his record (41 titles including four Grand Slam tournaments). A white unbreak, first, then a set that is generally mastered to push his opponent to the tie-break. If that was not enough to reverse the trend, her second part of the second set shows that she is still able to stand up to the best players on the circuit.
"She played very well, she can still play very well," reacted her opponent the day after the match ended. "She is an incredible player," she also said. Her next tournament could be in Monterrey, Mexico (early March), where she was originally scheduled to return to competition before accepting an invitation to the Dubai tournament.
- Kim Clijsters