Kim Clijsters will bring "a championship mindset", and an "energy and a competitiveness that will be hard to match" when she returns to the WTA Tour in 2020, according to leading coaches Sascha Bajin and Sven Groeneveld.
In interviews with wtatennis.com, Bajin and Groeneveld sounded intrigued about Clijsters, whose last competitive tennis was the 2012 US Open, coming back at the age of 36.
"It's hard to say what I expect from Kim as I don’t know how she is physically. Tennis really got way more physical the last few years on the WTA Tour. For sure, she can still turn matches with her championship mindset and playing the right ball in big moments, but I really don’t know if that’s going to be enough to compete in this modern age," said Bajin, the 2018 WTA Coach of the Year.
"I can’t wait to actually see it. But it's easier for someone to climb back to the the top once you’ve been there. You kind of know what you have to do. I think the biggest challenge for her is going to be competing again on a daily basis, and bringing it every day."
Bajin, who coached Naomi Osaka to two majors, suggested Clijsters possibly has it in her to win another Grand Slam.
"I mean, I think I want to say yes she can win another Slam but at the same time I’m really not sure. You have to compete for two weeks on the highest level," said Bajin. "It’s not going be easy but I believe if she’s coming back she can have great success. If it’s enough for winning only time will tell. Lots of things have to come together for that."
Groeneveld expects Clijsters to bring energy and intensity to the WTA Tour once she returns following her recovery from injury.
"I expect that Kim will bring an energy and competitiveness that will be hard to match by anybody. I expect she will be ready to rise to the occasion when faced with adversity," he said.
"Her biggest challenge will be to start competing again for a duration of a match and a full tournament. There is no substitute for real competition and the body and game will adapt gradually. I am not sure if she will win another Grand Slam but by her making the decision of playing she will always have a chance because she knows what it takes and knows how to repeat. This is only learned through experience and she has a lot of it."
Clijsters will be welcomed back to the sport, according to Bajin and Groeneveld.
"Everyone kind of wants to play her," said Bajin, while Groeneveld spoke of the huge respect that other players have for her: "Since Kim was so well respected when she played before I can not think of any player having doubts about her intentions to compete. I can only imagine players are respecting her decision."