Muguruza triumphs in Clijsters comeback match at Dubai
In a battle between former World No.1 players, Garbiñe Muguruza ousted Kim Clijsters in the Belgian's first match since 2012, earning a first-round victory at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
DUBAI, UAE -- A hotly anticipated first-round match between two former World No. 1 players and Grand Slam champions at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships went the way of No.9 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, as the Spaniard outlasted Kim Clijsters, 6-2, 7-6(6), in the Belgian's celebrated return to the WTA.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Clijsters is back on tour for the first time since the 2012 US Open, and during her hiatus of over seven years, the Belgian gave birth to her second and third child, as well as was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017. The Belgian has now marked her return to professional tennis with her Dubai debut.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza, though, continues to enjoy an incredible start to 2020, where she has posted three quarterfinal-or-better results thus far, including a run to her fourth Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, where she beat three Top 10 players. Since her 2016 title run at Roland Garros, Muguruza has gone 21-10 against Grand Slam champions.
The Spaniard is a two-time semifinalist in Dubai, having reached the final four in 2015 and 2018. In her first-ever meeting with Clijsters, Muguruza held off the Belgian's furious second-set comeback to triumph in 97 minutes of play. Muguruza had 19 winners to Clijsters' 15, and the Spaniard was helped along by winning nearly three-quarters of points off of her first serve.
Muguruza will now face either Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine or Russian qualifier Veronika Kudermetova in the second round of the Premier-level event.
A mammoth first game opened the encounter as the two major-winning legends went toe to toe off the ground, but Muguruza eventually took control of the game, converting her third break point after a rally overhead forced a long error from the Belgian.
As the set progressed, the Muguruza serve became a force to be reckoned with, as she eased to service holds to capitalize on her early advantage. Clijsters, though, stayed with the World No.16, finding powerful groundstrokes as she worked her way into the clash, including a fierce forehand winner to fend off a break point at 3-1.
Nevertheless, Muguruza continued to press the Belgian, earning a second break at 5-2. Serving for the set, the Spaniard fired three unforced errors to give Clijsters triple break point and a chance to extend the opening frame. However, Muguruza pulled five superb serves in a row out of her pocket, zipping from a dire predicament to a one-set lead in the blink of an eye.
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