Kim Clijsters stumbles on comeback after eight years, loses to Garbine Muguruza in Dubai

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Shared News| February 18, 2020 11:11:07 am
Kim Clijsters in action. (Source: Twitter)

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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.

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.

“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.

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.

(with Reuters inputs)