Kim Clijsters got a sharp lesson from today’s WTA as the 36-year-old’s comeback met an early 6-2, 7-6(6) first-round end at the hands of Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.
The first-round defeat on Monday at the Dubai Championships marked the end of the current attempt to add to the legacy of the four-time grand Slam champion and mother of three who first quit the Tour in 2007, returned in 2009 and left once again in autumn, 2012.
Clijsters came up against a former Roland Garros and Wimbledon winner who played the final of the Australian Open last month against Sofia Kenin.
Muguruza was pleased to have shared the court with her Belgian opponent, like herself a former No. 1.
“I was excited to be the first (opponent of the comeback). She played very well, especially in the second set,” Muguruza said.
“At the end of the second set. It was very tight. It was a fun match to play.
“I’m sure she’s going to get better and better, for sure give us a lot of trouble. She played really well after all these years (away).
“I just tried to keep playing, get my rhythm back. It was a night match. I was just thinking to take it easy, don’t get too crazy.”
As it got into a tiebreaker, the Spaniard prevailed.
“I was just thinking that no matter who wins, it’s going to be a fun match to play. She’s a player who has been seven years away.
“I was excited to see what it’s going to be like.”
Clijsters was well satisfied with her match, despite the loss.
“I had a good feeling out there, I felt a pace I can handle. I was able to go toe-to-toe with her from the baseline.
“I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t have that belief somehow. It might take 10 matches to get the way I played in the second set, might take me 10 matches to get that from start to finish.
“I have patience, believe it or not. I’m going to work my way into it and fight. We’ll see what happens.”
Tunisian Ons Jabeur beat Alison Riske 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3 and will next face top seed Simona Halep.
“I’m really happy that I made it through this win. Hopefully I can play better next round and be able to get the win,” added the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final last month at the Australian Open.
Barbora Strycova put out US teenager Amanda Anisimova 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-4 as the Czech won only her second match of the season.