Former champions Kim Clijsters and Andy Murray will return to Grand Slam tennis on Tuesday at the 2020 US Open.
The unranked 37-year-old wild card Clijsters will face WTA #27 Ekaterina Alexandrova in her first round match. The Belgian is making her second comeback and played her first official match in over seven years in February. Her last Grand Slam match was at the 2012 US Open, after which she retired for the second time. Clijsters is 0-2 on tour since her return, but was unbeaten in World TeamTennis in July.
Murray will take on ATP #49 Yoshihito Nishioka in his first Grand Slam singles match since the 2019 Australian Open. The 33-year-old’s career was in doubt after that tournament, but he has since returned after a second hip surgery. Murray is ranked #115 and earned impressive three-set wins against Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Zverev in Cincinnati last week.
Here is a look at the US Open history of the two former champions:
Flushing Meadows has been the venue at which Clijsters has won three of her four Grand Slam singles titles. She holds a stellar 86% (38-6) US Open win rate and first appeared in 1999. Four years later, ranked world #1 and aged 20, Clijsters reached her first US Open final–without dropping a set. There, she lost in straight sets to second seed Justine Henin–her compatriot and great rival.
In 2005, Clijsters won her first Grand Slam singles title at the US Open, after losing her four previous Major finals. She overcame Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova in consecutive three-setters in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. The fourth-seeded Belgian then beat Mary Pierce 6-3, 6-1 for the title.
After injury prevented Clijsters from defending her title in 2006, she next appeared in New York in 2009 after a period which included a two-year hiatus from mid-2007 to mid-2009, her first retirement. In just her third tournament back, an unranked Clijsters won the event as a wild card.
Following a three-set fourth round win against Venus Williams, Clijsters overcame Serena Williams in an infamous and dramatic 6-4, 7-5 semifinal win–in which Williams received a point penalty on match point for verbally abusing a line judge. The Belgian then beat Caroline Wozniacki in a straight-set final to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.
Clijsters defended her title in 2010, beating Samantha Stosur and Venus Williams in respective quarterfinal and semifinal three-set battles. The second-seed then comfortably defeated Vera Zvonareva in straight sets in the championship match. Her last US Open appearance came two years later, where she fell to Laura Robson in the second round–her first loss at Flushing Meadows since 2003. She then retired from tennis for the second time after a second round mixed doubles loss at the same tournament with partner Bob Bryan.
The US Open has also been a special tournament in Murray’s career. The Brit holds a strong 79% (45-12) win rate at Flushing Meadows. He first played the event in 2005, and reached his first Grand Slam final there in 2008 aged 21. After tough early wins against Michael Llodra and Jurgen Melzer, Murray earned a fine four-set win over future champion Juan Martin Del Potro in the last-eight. He followed that with a stunning four-set triumph against world #1 Rafael Nadal in the semis, before being outclassed by world #2 Roger Federer in a straight-set final loss.
After a four-set semifinal defeat to Nadal in 2011, Murray returned to the US Open final in 2012 seeded third. He survived tight four-set battles with Feliciano Lopez in round three, 2014 winner Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, and Tomas Berdych in the semifinals, to reach the Flushing Meadows showpiece for the second time.
Like Clijsters, Murray won his first Grand Slam title in New York–also after losing his first four Major finals. He beat second seed Novak Djokovic in an epic four-hour 54-minute five-set final, in which Murray recovered after seeing a 2-0 sets lead evaporate. The triumph made Murray the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray reached three quarterfinals and a fourth round from 2013-2016, before missing the 2017 edition due to his hip injury. Using a protected ranking in 2018, he fell to Fernando Verdasco in the second round –still struggling with injury. Still early in his comeback from his hip resurfacing, Murray skipped the 2019 US Open to play a Challenger event.
Embed from Getty Images