WASHINGTON, February 16, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
With the withdrawal of World No. 8 Kiki Bertens from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships announced Sunday afternoon, the WTA Premier tournament’s main draw has been revised. Main draw play begins Monday.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters of Belgium, who received a wild card into the main draw and was drawn to face Bertens in the first round in her first competitive match since the 2012 US Open, will now face Garbiñe Muguruza. The World No. 16 from Spain, who has been designated as the ninth seed in the Emirates event, was a recent Australian Open finalist.
The Clijsters-Muguruza match will be featured on Centre Court Monday night not before 7 p.m. local time (3 p.m. GMT). This will be the first time that the two former World No. 1 players have met.
“Obviously I was a little curious to see who it (her first opponent) was going to be,” Clijsters said during a pre-tournament interview session. “I don’t think it really matters in my situation right now. I still feel like I have a lot of things that I want to focus on myself, want to learn, start to get a feel for things again mentally, physically, emotionally, how I’m going to feel when I’m out there. So, yeah, I think that was my main concern or goal, is to get a hang of those kind of situations a little bit without having to worry too much.
“I’ve been practicing well. It’s important to now try to put whatever is going well in practice into a match and see how I will deal with being under pressure, nerves, those kind of things. That’s something that I haven’t done yet.”
With the draw revised, third seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who was originally scheduled to face Muguruza, will instead play against a qualifier or lucky loser in the first round.
The revision to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships main draw came as a result of Bertens reaching the finals of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. The Dutch No. 1 Bertens won with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 25 Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan in Sunday’s championship of the WTA Premier event in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was Bertens’ second straight title in the Russian port city.
— Dubai Tennis Champs (@DDFTennis) February 16, 2020
Around the DDFTC
Monday’s order of play includes six qualifying draw final-round matches plus five main draw first-round matches. The main draw begins play with No. 29 Amanda Anisimova of the United States facing No. 30 Barbora Strycova from Czech Republic, followed by No. 18 American Alison Riske against No. 45 wild card Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. Other main draw matches include: No. 17 Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic versus No. 41 Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia, and No. 19 Elise Mertens from Belgium against No. 27 Wang Qiang of China.