Comeback moms, Grand Slam champions and former world No.1s Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters are both still working to shrug off rustiness as they lost in the first round of the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey on Tuesday.
After being absent from the tour for six months, mainly due to the custody battle for her son, Victoria Azarenka was outdone by rising Slovenian star Tamara Zidansek 6-2 6-2. Playing her first match since the first-round US Open loss to compatriot Aryna Sabalenka, the seventh-seeded Azarenka faced a 5-1 deficit in the first set and even though she managed to save a set point and earn one break back, the world No.71 Zidansek sealed the opening set with another break and then comfortably won the second set without dropping serve.
Playing only her second professional match back since 2012, wildcard Kim Clijsters couldn’t overcome the challenge of second seed Johanna Konta, who recorded her first victory this year after a knee injury cut short her resurgent 2019 season. The world No.16 Konta broke Clijsters’ serve in the seventh game of the first set and again when the Belgian was serving to stay in the set. The second set went with serve until Konta’s 6-5 lead and as Clijsters served to force a tiebreak, the Brit outrallied her and capitalized on her second match point, 6-3 7-5.
Even though Konta didn’t face a break point throughout the encounter that lasted one hour and 25 minutes, the 28-year-old stated that it was a very tough match against an incredible ball-striker. Honored to have an opportunity to play the tennis legend, Konta commented:
Her ability to do things with the ball is what made her a multiple Grand Slam champion. It’s why she was able to come back and play, in her second match back after seven years, at a level like this. That’s not exactly an every day thing, that’s for sure.
The four-time Grand Slam champion Clijsters evaluated her performance and progress:
I felt some things were better. Some things still need a lot of improvement. That’s why it’s good to play matches. In Dubai, I didn’t start well because I was overwhelmed, but today I started and served much better than I did there. Those are a few of the positive things, and the points that have to be better, I’ll work very hard to improve them for other matches.
Elina Svitolina, who is headlining the Monterrey Open on her tournament debut, advanced to the second round by defeating Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-3 6-2 in the first round.