Former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters returns to the WTA Tour and will play for the first time since the 2012 US Open at the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The 36 year old Belgian is scheduled to meet Australian Open finalist - Spain's Garbine Muguruza - also a former World No.
1 after World No. 8 Kiki Bertens, her opponent when the draw as made o withdrew from the tournament. The Dutchwoman withdrew after reaching the final in St. Petersburg this week. Speaking in Dubai, Clijsters says, "It would also have been great to play against Kiki but facing Muguruza is also good.
At the moment, however, the opponent doesn't matter so much to me. I'm mainly focused on the aspects that I want to perform well on the court, the things that I have to relearn to adapt to. I have thus found that I must notably regain the sense of anticipation and reading the game.
It was very difficult at first, but I have the feeling that it is already much better. And that makes me happy. " This will be the first meeting between the two. Muguruza was only 18 years old when Clijsters retired in 2012 and has since then won 2 Grand Slam singles titles - Roland Garros in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017.
Clijsters says she is realistic about her chances against the Spaniard, who is in fine form after getting back with Conchita Martinez as her coach. "I trained well this week, with several players, in order to imitate the match situations as much as possible.
Regaining reaction speed, reading a service ... There, I just trained with Halep and it was very nice. Now, Muguruza, it's a different style. I've already seen her play several times and she is someone who likes to enter the court and dictate the exchanges.
It will be important that I too can manage to put her under pressure. I am competitive at heart, I will do everything to to win, but on the other hand, I’m realistic and I know it’s going to be very difficult to beat a girl like Muguruza.
But I’m ready to take on this challenge." The Belgian added that she decided to come back because an inner feeling kept telling her to do so and also the encouragement she received from her "It was a feeling that I had inside, a feeling that I had inside for a little while.
Once in a while that feeling would go away when I was home with the (three) kids. A couple times it would come back. It got stronger and stronger.. I talked to my husband. He was like, 'stop worrying about why and ask yourself why not.'
"He made a very good point. I was like, 'There is no 'why not' Why wouldn't I do it?" I've enjoyed the challenge since the day I've decided to go for it. It's been with ups and downs. Being 36 years old, you know that's how it's been for your whole career.
It's how you mentally stay through it, how strong you stay through those kind of situations. When things don't go well, that's obviously when you have to be committed and focused. I've been doing that. It's been an interesting but very challenging process that I'm really enjoying."