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Konta survives Clijsters for first win of 2020 in Monterrey

andrew hendrie /

Kim Clijsters will have to wait at least one more tournament before winning the first match of her comeback after going down to Johanna Konta in Monterrey.

Konta claimed her first win since last year’s U.S. Open as she registered a 6-3 7-5 victory over the former World No. 1 in the opening round of the Abierto GNP Segurous in Monterrey on Tuesday night.

Just as she did against Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza in Dubai last month, Clijsters threatened to force a decider deep into the second set, but perhaps a lack of match-play contributed to some tightness in the latter stages, with Konta stepping up to hold and then break for the match after the Belgian fired a forehand long on match point.

“As a young player, I never thought I’d get to play Kim Clijsters in my career,” Konta said during the on-court interview. “I feel truly privileged and honoured to share the court with such a champion. It’s nice to have her back.”

Clijsters showed flashes of brilliance with some big serving and powerful groundstrokes, but she was ultimately undone by too many double faults and unforced errors at crucial stages.

While she’s 0-2 in her third coming to the tour, Clijsters has displayed encouraging signs against both Muguruza and Konta and will be hoping for a kinder draw when she competes at Indian Wells in a couple of weeks time.

“It was very tough. She’s an incredible ball-striker. Her ability to do things with the ball is what made her a multiple Grand Slam champion,” Konta said as she continued to praise Clijsters post-match.

“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. I feel so honored to have played her, and really happy with my performance.”

Kim Clijsters (PA Images)

For Konta, it was an important and confidence-boosting victory after the Brit’s resurgent 2019 was shut down early due to a knee injury.

The Brit reached the French Open semi-finals and quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, but was sidelined after September with a knee injury.

Konta returned at the start of 2020, but she was eliminated in the opening round of Brisbane and the Australian Open by Barbora Strycova and Ons Jabeur, while she also went down to Oceane Dodin in St. Petersburg last month.

Another mother awaits Konta in the second round after Tatjana Maria knocked out Acapulco champion Heather Watson in three sets earlier on Tuesday.

Elina Svitolina, the Monterrey top seed, snapped a three-match losing streak in beating Danka Kovinic 6-3 6-2 as the Ukrainian searches for her first WTA title in over a year, while former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka was beaten in her first match of 2020, going down to Slovenian youngster Tamara Zidansek.