17 February 2020

Kim Clijsters and Sofia Kenin reunited as Belgian makes long-awaited return in Dubai

Former tennis world No 1 Kim Clijsters and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin first met 15 years ago when Kenin was just six years old.

And this week the two were reunited in Dubai as Clijsters made her long-awaited return to the court.

Clijsters and Kenin first met 15 years ago (Twitter: @Wearetennis)

Before the serious business began, the two women caught up on the beach for an impromptu knock-up.

Clijsters said: “Dubai is the first tournament that made sure that there was equal prize money for both men and women, so it’s obviously a tournament that has always been trying to create and step up and be a leader amongst a lot of the other tournaments on the tour.

“Dubai is the perfect place, I’ve been practising indoors for six months or so, just to be able to come here and to be in the sun, it’s a great week for us to kick it off, I’m excited to be here”.

She and Kenin, 21, are two of the top attractions at this week's WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

And Clijsters didn't disappoint as she produced a remarkable display, which ended in a 6-2 7-6 (8-6) defeat to Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza.

The Belgian went toe-to-toe with Muguruza from the baseline, produced several stunning winners and came from a double-break down in the second set.

But Muguruza finally saw off Clijsters with a big serve in the tie-break.

Speaking after her loss, she said: "I had a good feeling out there, I felt a pace I can handle. I felt like I was able to go toe-to-toe with her from the baseline.

"I have patience. I'm going to work my way into it and fight. We'll see what happens."

For Kenin, who is fresh off the back of her maiden Grand Slam victory at the 2020 Australian Open, the story is very different to last year.

In 2019 she entered the tournament as a relatively unknown World No 37, but this year, as the top-ranked American player and World No 7, she's a strong contender for the title.

“This is my second year in Dubai and I feel like all the players love coming here, for the beaches of course, beautiful hotels, everything”.

Kenin takes on Elena Rybakina tomorrow.

The two stars hit the beach at Jumeirah Al Naseem (Twitter: @WeAreTennis)

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox