Dubai: For former world number one and four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters, the campaign in Dubai may have ended but the journey has just about begun all over again. And on her part, the 36-year-old Belgian is keen to make the best of every moment - be it on court or off it.
Clijsters has been a true champion of her era. Four Grand Slams – three of these on her first comeback in 2009 (the US Open in 2009, 2010 and the 2011 Australian Open) and then she decided on a second break from the WTA Tour. In between, she delivered three babies – Jada Elly (11), Jack Leon (6) and Blake Richard (3) – before announcing in September last year that she would stage a second comeback starting at the Australian Open.
That never happened due to an irksome knee and Clijsters was more than happy to accept a wild card at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open where she went down in straight sets to Spanish Grand Slam champion, Garbine Muguruza, late on Monday.
Clijsters was applaued all the way as the entire attendance at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium stood up to cheer the champion’s comeback.
At the post-match meeting with the media, Clijsters was not too severe on herself either. “I felt obviously the second set was a big difference compared to the first set. 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 as I was seeing the ball clear...just started reading her game better as well, getting used to her pace a little bit,” she recounted.
“In the 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,” she smiled.
“I think the whole team realises that this has been the ideal situation for me to come back. The preparation, just being able to do our thing, just preparing. I think from Thursday onwards I started practising here. Just every day I felt like I was getting better and better. I think this whole week has been a big step forward for me and the whole team,” Clijsters disclosed.
Muguruza perhaps sounded the right note when she threw in a word of caution about the Belgian even after winning. “She has the tennis over there. I’m sure she’s going to get better and better and for sure give us a lot of trouble and hard times ahead,” the Spaniard felt.