The 20th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships takes place next week, with a strong field of players set to fight for the title at this prestigious WTA Premier event. World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty had to withdraw due to a foot injury together with the US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, with the organizers offering a wild card to Elina Svitolina who forgot to sign in time and the Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza.
They will battle against Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens and other rivals from the top, together with a former world no. 1 and a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame Kim Clijsters who has taken a wild card, deciding to speed up her comeback and return to the court in Dubai instead of waiting until Monterrey as she previously planned.
The Belgian hasn't competed since the US Open 2012, retiring and switching focus to her Academy, also working with other players. At the end of the last season, the mother of three announced her comeback to the professional tennis, eager to test her skills against many rivals she didn't have a chance to play before.
The Belgian couldn't make a comeback at the Australian Open due to a knee injury, taking more time to get back at her 100% and not rushing anything on her second comeback to the WTA Tour. Before the Dubai trip, Kim had practiced with the Belgian Fed Cup squad in Kortrijk last week, helping her teammates who competed against Kazakhstan on Friday and Saturday for the place at the first Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April, securing the spot among the elite 12 nations.
Reportedly, Kim hit the ball on a high level as always during her career, forcing Elise Mertens to run for her money and hoping to repeat that in Dubai, facing the 6th seed Kiki Bertens in the opening round. Speaking with the Belgian media, Kim joked about the fact her son Jack wants her to lose early and get back home, not used to stay away from his mom for too long.