MONTERREY, Mexico – Kim Clijsters’ last return tour is taking the Hall of Famer to places she has never been to.
Two weeks ago, the 36-year-old returned to competitive tennis after an almost seven-year absence from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in what was also her tournament debut, and the four-time Grand Slam champion will make another week. at the GNP Seguros Abierto.
To find out more: Clijsters manages expectations, emotions in view of the debut in Dubai
“From the moment we were picked up at the airport, people have been very friendly. It’s a very nice area. I’m excited to be here and to play here in Monterrey, and for the first time in South America,” Clijsters said to the media Sunday before the tournament.
“The other Belgians who played here in the past told me about it at the Fed Cup. [Victoria] Azarenka told me it was a great tournament to participate in. They were right. It’s nice to be here “.
A joker in this week’s draw in Mexico, the unregulated Belgian will face Britain’s number 2 seed Johanna Konta in the first round while his third bout on the WTA continues to find his feet.
The game will be Clijsters’ second game against a Top 20 in as many events after losing a 6-2, 7-6 (6) game against Garbiñe Muguruza in Dubai.
Two points from winning the second set against the Australian Open second place, the 36-year-old believes that her first month of returning to the professional circuit has been full of positive aspects.
To find out more: Muguruza triumphs in Clijsters’ return match in Dubai
“I feel like I’m playing tennis, I’m improving. I still have a good level in me. I’m still on the stage where I feel like I need a race pace,” said Clijsters.
“So far I have played an official game and some sets of tests. I would like to have more games, and it’s the only way I can practice certain things that you can only learn from games.
“Basically, I’m moving better, I’m reacting better, I’m making better decisions. It has to happen in the game now. I think the more games I can play, the better it will get a little bit and we’ll see how far I can go.”
After finishing her 2019 season after the US Open due to a knee injury, British no. 1 Konta is also looking for a game of his own in Monterrey. The world no. 15 is 0-3 in singles to start the season, but reached the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy double semifinal last month alongside Caroline Garcia.
Konta is also in a double draw this week with Elina Svitolina’s partner, who is the best seed of the tournament in singles.
The game against Konta will be another first time for the former Clijsters n. 1 of the world, since she and the British have never played.
“I haven’t seen so many players yet. I’ve played a tournament, and I’m really trying to focus on my tennis and fitness, so I’m not that much,” continued Clijsters.
“I saw many new faces, many girls that I don’t know, but that I’m starting to get to know a little bit. I practiced with different girls, and it was fun.
“There are also girls I know very well. Azarenka, I saw her yesterday or Simona Halep [a practice partner in Dubai], which I have seen for many years. “
Regardless of what comes to mind this week in Mexico, Clijsters’ return will continue to gain steam throughout the spring. Last week, it was awarded a joker for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where she is a two-time champion.
“It’s a process. It’s a process of ups and downs, and I think it’s something you need to understand. It comes with a failure, but I think it’s the way you deal with the moments when it’s most difficult,” he said.
“It is when you improve more, when you learn more about yourself and when you are able to improve. I think it was something that I have always been able to do well.
“When I lost in the past I was disappointed, but after a certain period of time, I was able to make this switch in my head and use it, and that’s how I managed to improve. I think it’s that kind of mentality. It’s important. don’t get discouraged about losses and use it to motivate you even more. “