The 20th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will take place in two weeks, with a strong field of players leading this prestigious WTA Premier event. World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty had to withdraw due to a foot injury, with the organizers offering a wild card to Elina Svitolina who forgot to sign in time.
The Ukrainian will battle against Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu, Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens and other players 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.
The Belgian hasn't played 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 the 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. In the meanwhile, Kim has been practicing with the Belgian Fed Cup squad in Kortrijk this week, backing her teammates who competed against Kazakhstan on Friday and Saturday for the place at the first Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.
Reportedly, Kim has hit on a high level, forcing Elise Mertens to run for her money and making the captain Johan Van Herck confident about the upcoming tie against Kazakhstan and her comeback in a couple of weeks. "I am excited to be getting back to the match court.
I know it's a special anniversary for the Dubai Duty Free Championships and it's an honor to be making my return to the game and debut in Dubai at the same time. I can't wait to return to the game I love and play in front of the fans again - the support and encouragement that I've received since the announcement has been overwhelming."
"We are delighted to welcome such a great champion here for the first time and thrilled that Kim Clijsters has included Dubai in her limited schedule as she seeks to continue her wonderful career," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.
"She is one of the greatest players to have graced the game, and she excelled in the often difficult challenge of being not only one of the game's strongest competitors but in being universally loved and respected by her peers, we wish her every success here."