In Second Return to Tennis, Kim Clijsters Loses to Garbine Muguruza in Dubai
(February 17, 2020) DUBAI – four-time major champion and tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters is back on the WTA Tour. the Belgian announced back in September that she was coming out of retirement for a second time. she first retired in 2007 and returned to win three more major titles – two US Opens and an Australian Open. Now she’s back as a mother of three.
In her first match since the 2012 US Open, the 36-year-old Clijsters fell 6-2, 7-6 (6) loss to Garbine Muguruza at the Dubai Championships on Monday.
“I felt obviously the second set was a big difference compared to the first set,” said Clijsters during her news conference. “My timing in the first set, my footing, just kept looking for it. I felt a few times it was there, then it would be off a few points. At times I felt like I was close. I was seeing the ball clear. Just started reading her game better, as well, getting used to her pace a little bit.
“Yeah, second set I felt I was really in the match. 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.”
“I had a good feeling out there,” the Belgian added. “I do feel a little bit of, I’m not going to say relief, but a feeling of the pace I can handle. Obviously she’s probably not the hardest hitter out there. There’s some girls that hit the ball a lot harder. I felt like I was able to go toe-to-toe with her from the baseline.”
“I think it’s too soon for me to say this is what has changed compared to eight years ago or so. It’s tough for me to already comment and give you a clear, good answer.”
Asked about her family’s reaction to come back to the tour, Clijsters said:
“Mixed. Jada is like, Mom, do it. If you feel like doing it, just do it.
“Jack, our middle child, he was like, Mom, I hope you lose your first match, then you can come home quicker.
“Just different feelings. The youngest is too young to really understand, but the support is there. They see me practice and they play some tennis at the academy, as well.
“Yeah, it’s different than, whatever, 10 years ago when Jada was on tour. They’re older. Jada can understand. She plays basketball. She sees me at night when I’m in the gym. She comes down to the gym with me. We do exercises together. We stretch, little things like that.
“It makes me think of how it used to be when I was younger. My dad was rehabbing his knee for soccer. Yeah, just funny how kind of moments that you can kind of relate to what it used to be.
“Yeah, it’s fun. They’ll start traveling a little bit more now in the next few weeks when I go to Monterey and Indian Wells. It will be nice to have them with me.”
“I mean, she’s an incredible player,” said Muguruza, the two-time major winner and 2020 Australian Open finalist. “Excited to be the first one (to play her) on her third comeback, I think. I was just thinking that no matter who wins, it’s going to be a fun match to play because it’s a player that I think has been seven years away. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like’.
“I think she played very well, especially in the second set at the end. It was very tight. She has the tennis over there. I’m sure she’s going to get better and better, for sure give us a lot of trouble. I think she played really well after all these years.”
Ons Jabeur will face the top seed and former Dubai champion Simona Halep after a tough 7-6, 1-6, 6-3 win over Alison Riske.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a great match.,” said Jabeur. “She’s a great inspiration for many players. I’m lucky enough to play her. Hopefully now I’m setting up new mentality for myself. Hopefully I go for the win.”
“She was playing better,” said Jabeur of her 2 -plus hour win over Riskke. “(But) maybe my concentration was off for some time. She was playing good, but I couldn’t find the solution. Probably I couldn’t think good. I tried to call my coach to maybe discuss a little bit with him instead of going inside here (her head) crazy. Just sometimes the mind is not in the right place. If I’m really good in my mind, I think I put a good, like, motivation in my head, then it’s good, the results can be good.”
“She’s such a fighter. We know that all the players who fight like this, it’s tough to win against them. She didn’t give me any easy balls at the beginning, so I had to go and win my point.
“She has such a, like, flat and tricky shots, it was kind of tough for me to really spin little bit and put the ball in.”
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
February 17-22, 2020
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
RESULTS – FEBRUARY 17, 2020
Singles – First Round
 G. Muguruza (ESP) d [WC] K. Clijsters (BEL) 62 76(6)
[WC] O. Jabeur (TUN) d A. Riske (USA) 76(3) 16 63
E. Mertens (BEL) d Q. Wang (CHN) 63 60
M. Vondrousova (CZE) d A. Sevastova (LAT) 63 62
B. Strycova (CZE) d A. Anisimova (USA) 76(3) 26 64
Doubles – First Round
 K. Peschke (CZE) / D. Schuurs (NED) d K. Flipkens (BEL) / A. Van Uytvanck (BEL) 63 61
 Y. Duan (CHN) / V. Kudermetova (RUS) d V. Golubic (SUI) / J. Teichmann (SUI) 60 61
S. Kenin (USA) / B. Mattek-Sands (USA) d [WC] M. Adamczak (AUS) / Y. Sizikova (RUS) 60 75
L. Kichenok (UKR) / N. Kichenok (UKR) d [PR] D. Jurak (CRO) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 46 62 10-4
M. Ninomiya (JPN) / Z. Yang (CHN) d J. Goerges (GER) / S. Halep (ROU) 62 61
Qualifying Singles – Third Round
Qualifying –  K. Mladenovic (FRA) d  P. Hercog (SLO) 63 61
Qualifying –  V. Kudermetova (RUS) d B. Mattek-Sands (USA) 64 62
Qualifying –  J. Brady (USA) d  S. Hsieh (TPE) 62 62
Qualifying – K. Siniakova (CZE) d  A. Van Uytvanck (BEL) 57 62 75
Qualifying – S. Cirstea (ROU) d  C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 62 16 64
Qualifying – A. Sasnovich (BLR) d A. Bogdan (ROU) 64 76(4)
ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2020
CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
 [WC] E. Svitolina (UKR) vs [Q] J. Brady (USA)
A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs  B. Bencic (SUI)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 S. Kenin (USA) vs E. Rybakina (KAZ)
M. Sakkari (GRE) vs  A. Sabalenka (BLR)
COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
K. Muchova (CZE) vs [Q] K. Siniakova (CZE)
[Q] K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs [Q] A. Sasnovich (BLR)
[Q] V. Kudermetova (RUS) vs D. Yastremska (UKR)
 P. Martic (CRO) vs [LL] S. Hsieh (TPE)
[Q] S. Cirstea (ROU) vs A. Kontaveit (EST)
COURT 2 start 2:00 pm
D. Krawczyk (USA) / A. Riske (USA) vs K. Christian (USA) / O. Kalashnikova (GEO)
H. Carter (USA) / L. Stefani (BRA) vs L. Hradecka (CZE) / A. Klepac (SLO)
K. Muchova (CZE) / M. Vondrousova (CZE) vs J. Brady (USA) / A. Sevastova (LAT)
COURT 3 start 2:00 pm
 S. Aoyama (JPN) / E. Shibahara (JPN) vs Ka. Pliskova (CZE) / Kr. Pliskova (CZE)
X. Han (CHN) / S. Peng (CHN) vs C. Lister (SWE) / R. Voracova (CZE)
 B. Krejcikova (CZE) / S. Zheng (CHN) vs A. Guarachi (CHI) / A. Rosolska (POL)
[WC] C. Garcia (FRA) / S. Mirza (IND) vs [PR] A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / K. Srebotnik (SLO)