Back from suspension, Simona Halep falls in three sets in Miami

League: Tennis

Posted on: 20 Mar, 2024 at 02:40 AM

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Two-time Grand Slam winner and former World No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania returned from a nine-month suspension Tuesday but lost to Spaniard Paula Badosa in the Round of 128 at the Miami Open.

Badosa rallied to beat Halep 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, winning 38 of her 49 first-service points (77.6 percent).

Halep was back for the first time since the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced a doping suspension from four years to nine months earlier this month. The suspension came after she tested positive for the banned substance Roxadustat, which she said she used unintentionally.

Halep was granted a wild-card entry into the Miami Open. On Tuesday, she saved 7 of 11 break points and went 4-for-5 in breaking Badosa's serve, but she also committed 10 double faults.

"I missed this," Halep said postmatch. "I had emotions, but positive emotions, the crowd supporting me so nice. The level of tennis was pretty good -- unexpected for most of the people.

"I think I did a good job today. I'm happy with my first match coming back. I would rate it as a special day, honestly."

Badosa advanced to face No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who had a first-round bye.

Meanwhile, another former World No. 1, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, eased past France's Clara Burel 6-1, 6-4.

Wozniacki had two double faults without an ace, but she won 23 of 29 first-service points (79.3 percent) and rallied from down 2-1 by winning four straight games before fending off Burel's comeback attempt.

Wozniacki is coming off a run to the quarterfinals at Indian Wells last week, her first since her return from taking time off to have two children.

"For (my children) to be able to see me put the work in, it's a great way also for them to learn," Wozniacki said after Tuesday's match. "For them to travel with me and my family, it's great. I think we're getting closer even in a different way. They have to adapt, but I think it's fun for them."

Diana Shnaider, a 19-year-old from Russia, took down 43-year-old Venus Williams 6-3, 6-3 in a rare appearance for Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner and three-time Miami champion.

"I haven't played here in five years, so it's amazing to come back," Williams said, per the Miami Herald. "Five years goes fast. Also, I haven't played very often, so it's up and down.

"Sometimes I'm playing at my normal level and sometimes not. Either making the right choice, or rusty. I think that's to be expected now. Overall, I had a lot of fun."

Americans Peyton Stearns and Taylor Townsend won their opening matches.

Other first-round winners included Xiyu Wang, Xinyu Wang and Yue Yuan of China; Katerina Siniakova and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic; Laura Siegemund of Germany; Clara Tauson of Denmark; and Daria Saville of Australia; Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan; Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine; and Diane Parry of France.

--Field Level Media