In her first match since losing the Australian Open final against the American Sofia Kenin, the Spanish Garbiñe Muguruza beat the Belgian Kim Clijsters on her return to the competition, in their debut in the Dubai tournament, by 6 -2 and 7-6 (6)
Clijsters, 36, a former world number one in 2003 and winner of four Grand Slam titles, was back on the slopes after 2,728 days when she lost to Britain’s Laura Robson in the second round of the 2012 US Open. .
With the night falling over Dubai, 24 degrees and a humidity of 49 percent, the pupil of the Spanish Conchita Martínez, 26, was much stronger and faster than Clijsters, who was very pressured to serve throughout the duel, although in the end the Belgian player put the Spanish in trouble.
The Belzin player gave up her serve four times, committing nine double faults, some of them key to the decision of the game. Garbiñe rested strong and placed to dominate the point from the start, and barely allowed Clijsters to show off his still powerful shots from the bottom, especially the two-handed crossed backhand and a flat forehand that recalled his best years, to win the first partial in 32 minutes.
Encouraged by a large group of Belgian fans and benefiting from a mental blackout from Garbiñe, who dominated 4-2 in the second set and later accumulated a cascade of errors, Clijsters, despite being visibly overweight, won three consecutive games to get 5-4 up. The Spanish forced the tiebreaker next, and after leading with 5-3 she closed the match then at the second opportunity in one hour and 39 minutes.
Muguruza will face in the round of 16 with the winner of the clash between the Russian Veronika Kudermetova, from the previous phase, and the Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska.
«I am very happy, it was an incredible game, against a great player. His level has been very good, and it will be difficult again. I was expecting moments like these in the tiebreaker, “said Muguruza very seriously on the court, adding later that she hoped to” maintain that good game from the beginning of the season “that led him to play in the final of the first major.
Also achieved the round of 16, the Czech Barbora Strycova defeating the American Amanda Anisimova, 7-6 (3), 2-6 and 6-4, the Belgian Elise Mertens, defeating the Chinese Qiang Wang, by 6 -3 and 6-0 and Tunisian Ons Jabeur, defeating American Alison Riske 7-6 (3), 1-6 and 6-3. AFP