In her first WTA match in over seven years, two weeks ago in Dubai, Kim Clijsters fought valiantly against recent Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza, ultimately falling 6-2, 7-6 (8). It was a rotten draw for the Belgian, whose last match prior to her retirement was a straight-set defeat to Laura Robson at the 2012 US Open. The 36-year-old’s second comeback match is against Great Britain’s Johanna Konta in Monterrey on Tuesday, which is much more winnable.
Konta’s 2019 season ended with a knee injury after a successful US Open quarterfinal run, but judging from her start to 2020, it doesn’t appear she has fully recovered. The 28-year-old is 0-3 to start the year—her last match was an uncharacteristic loss to then-No. 159 Oceane Dodin in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, Konta appears caught in knee-injury purgatory.
“I have had this knee injury since Brisbane last year," Konta told The Guardian in January. "So I was playing with it the whole 2019 season.”
It’s tough for players to weigh the importance of much-needed match play and a guaranteed cash prize, or an additional few months of rest and recovery. Either way, this is the type of match Clijsters needs to kickstart her comeback.
At her best, Konta can rip laser-like winners from all over the court. But with the Brit's knee compromised, Clijsters should be able to sink her teeth into the match. They’ve never played before, but Konta can’t be too confident after her winless start to the season.
The Belgian, on the other hand, impressed the tennis world with her performance against Muguruza. We’ll have a better understanding of Clijsters true level once she gets more matches under her belt, but don’t be surprised to see the four-time major champion upset the 16th ranked Konta.