Kim Clijsters’ comeback hit another road block Thursday.
Clijsters, the former world No. 1 player who returned to action late last year after a 7 1/2-year absence, lost 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 to the Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova in first-round action at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
The 38-year-old Belgian, who is 10 years removed from the last of her four Grand Slam titles, lost last week at the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic in her first WTA Tour match of 2021. In 2020, Clijsters fell in the first round of all three events she entered.
Her last three matches overall have gone to three sets.
Clijsters, currently ranked 1,476th in the world, served nine double faults and just one ace Thursday. She won only 32 percent of her second-serve points. Siniakova, ranked 53rd, converted six of her nine break-point opportunities.
Another former top-10 player, France’s Caroline Garcia, produced a better result Thursday. Garcia, now No. 59, rallied past Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 5-7, 6-4, 6-0.
Down a set, Garcia trailed 4-3 in the second set before winning the match’s final nine games.
“We’ve had a couple of battles in the past and from what I remember, every time, it was three sets most of the time,” Garcia said. “She started the match very well. She’s coming from qualies so she’s very confident, and for me, it’s been a tough preparation.
“I was a little bit not feeling like myself, but I kept fighting on every point. I think I really improved, and the end of the first set, it was really close. The second set was going more my way but she kept battling, and I stayed more solid.”
Also earning first-round wins Thursday were Croatia’s Ana Konjuh, Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, Italy’s Martina Trevisan, Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, Australia’s Astra Sharma and Ajla Tomljanovic, Poland’s Magdalena Frech, Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, Egypt’s Mayar Sherif, Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya and the United States trio of Lauren Davis, Amanda Anisimova and Alison Riske.
The tournament’s top four seeds, No. 1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, No. 2 Iga Swiatek of Poland, No. 3 Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic and No. 4 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, will all open play Friday after receiving first-round byes.
The two teenage finalists from last month’s U.S. Open also will play their first matches Friday. U.S. Open champ Emma Raducanu of Great Britain, the 17th seed, will face Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich. U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez of Canada, the 23rd seed, will oppose France’s Alize Cornet.
–Field Level Media