Kim Clijsters made a strong return to tennis after over 7 years, pushing Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza in a 6-2, 7-6(6) loss in the opening round in Dubai on Monday.
Playing in her first WTA match since the 2012 US Open, the 36-year-old Clijsters was rattled early falling behind 6-2, 3-0. But the 3-time Grand Slam champion mounted a spirited comeback, going toe-to-toe with the Spaniard before falling just short in the tiebreaker.
“I had a good feeling out there,” said Clijsters. “I do feel a little bit of, I’m not going to say relief, but a feeling of the pace I can handle. ”
“Second set, I felt I was really in the match,” she added. “I felt like for a while I was dominating some of the points. I think that’s a good feeling to have, knowing the way I started the first set and then the way I was able to get back into that second set, with the type of tennis I played, it’s something that is the positive about this match. I’ll take that with me for the next matches.”
Muguruza enjoyed the experience of facing the hall of famer, and gave Clijsters high marks.
“I think she played very well, especially in the second set at the end,” Muguruza said.
“I think this is just special because I didn’t know how [Clijsters was] going to play,” said Muguruza. “I know she can play incredible. She did at some point play incredible level. Just the special feeling. I haven’t seen her play in so long, so it’s like, ‘Okay, what’s going to happen?'”
“I’m sure she’s going to get better and better, for sure, give us a lot of trouble.”
Elsewhere, Ons Jabeur, Elise Mertens, French finalist Marketa Vondrousova and Barbora Strycova were also first round winners.
On Tuesday, Elina Svitolina will meet Jennifer Brady, Sofia Kenin clashes with Elena Rybakina and Belinda Bencic opens her title defense against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
You Might Like:
Bertens Defends St. Petersburg Title Over Rybakina
Top Seeds Svitolina, Muguruza Into Dubai Semifinals
Kim Clijsters Takes Wildcard Into Indian Wells
3rd Tourney Into Comeback, Clijsters Wins US Open
UPDATE1: Clijsters Officially Announces She Will Un-Retire in 2009