Clijsters’ comeback bid halted

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Comeback queen Kim Clijsters lost 6-2 7-6(6) to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza on her return to the professional circuit after nearly eight years in an engrossing contest in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday.

The 36-year-old Belgian, who has won four Grand Slam singles titles but last played in 2012 at the U.S. Open, could not cope with the Spaniard, who hit 19 winners while a rusty Clijsters finished with 10 double faults and 23 unforced errors.

The Belgian was broken in her first service game as nerves got the better of her but after falling 2-0 behind Clijsters showed the grit and tenacity of old to gain a foothold in the match and troubled the Spaniard on crucial points.

“It was a special match, she’s back and she’s an incredible player. I was happy to be the one to face her,” ninth seed Muguruza, who reached the Australian Open final earlier this month, said in a post-match interview.

“I think she is going to give (opponents) a hard time. She was very good and I was expecting it to be hard.”

This is Clijsters second comeback.

She first retired from tennis in 2007, taking a break to have the first of her three children, but returned within 24 months to claim three of her four Grand Slams and return to the top of the rankings in 2011.