Simona Halep's come back to Miami could change the WTA season

The Romanian tennis player will play the first round against Paula Badosa: what can happen now?

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Simona Halep's come back to Miami could change the WTA season
© Michael Reaves / Stringer Getty Images Sport

A few hours after the end of the BNP Paribas Open, the protagonists of Indian Wells have already catapulted to Florida for the combined Miami Open.

The Indian Wells winner Iga Swiatek, who missed last year's Miami Open due to a rib injury, will have one more rival: Simona Halep.

The Pole's goal is to increase her lead in the rankings ahead of the clay court season, where she will defend many points, but there is no shortage of pitfalls in the tournament in Florida.

Swiatek's first opponent will be the winner of the first round between Camila Giorgi and Magdalena Frech. Jessica Pegula and Leylah Fernandez are other pitfalls on that side of the draw. The other top-half seeds are Coco Gauff, Marta Kostyuk, Caroline Garcia, Daria Kasatkina, Sorana Cirstea, Potapova and Ons Jabeur.

In the bottom-half of the main draw all eyes will be on Simona Halep. The Romanian won the appeal presented to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne and her disqualification for testing positive for Roxadustat was reduced from 4 years to 9 months.

TAS accepted the thesis put forward by Halep on the contamination of the food supplements taken. For her there will be a great match with Paula Badosa and the possibility of competing against Aryna Sabalenka in the second round.

Simona Halep
Simona Halep© Michael Reaves / Stringer Getty Images Sport

The Belarusian will be called upon to make up for her latest disappointing performances: on her path are Anhelina Kalinina, Liudmila Samsonova, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Qinwen Zheng. The hypothetical semifinal brings Sabalenka close to Elena Rybakina.

The Kazakh, a finalist in Miami in 2023, will see the court again after her retirement in Indian Wells.

But let's go into more detail. Simona Halep's comeback opens up new scenarios for all the stars of the WTA Tour who have competed in recent months without the Romanian. Halep will be a variable that could destabilize the hierarchy that has been established on the WTA Tour and in the WTA ranking, undermining all the top players who aspire to win tournaments.

Simona has a warrior spirit; she will return to the court to win and not just to act as a supporting actress. The Romanian will try to regain the role of leading actress, which has been denied to her for the last year and a half.

In Miami, also considering a very difficult draw, it will be difficult to immediately aspire to the maximum goal, considering that she has not played an official match since August 2022. But already from the clay-swing, if she has recovered physical brilliance, which she will be able to put into discuss the kingdom that Swiate, Sabalenka, Rybakina and Gauff created.

Simona Halep comes back on the court: her words

The Romanian tennis player has waged a tough battle since the day she was given a four-year ban because she tested positive for one of the substances prohibited by the regulation: Roxadustat. CAS approved her appeal, accepting the theory that it was an unintentional contamination.

"My faith in the system has been tested by the scandalous allegations that have been made against me and the seemingly limitless resources that have been marshalled against me. I can't wait to get back out on the Tour," commented Halep in the words reported by BBC journalist Russell Fuller.

"CAS panel has unanimously determined that the four-year period of disqualification imposed by the independent ITF tribunal shall be reduced to a period of disqualification of nine (9) months starting from 7 October 2022, which period expired on 6 July 2023." This was the statement released by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Simona Halep.

Through a long post published on her social media accounts, Halep expressed her joy at the CAS verdict and sent a clear message to what was in all respects a nightmare.

"Today marks a crucial moment, as the court issued its verdict clarifying my position and this chapter: In a unanimous decision, the CAS acquitted me of any wrongdoing relating to the doping allegations It was also unanimously ruled that the unfortunate incident of the positive Roxadustat test was due to inadvertent contamination, resulting in a reduction of the disqualification to nine months.

Furthermore, the court ordered ITIA to compensate me with 20,000 Swiss francs. In the midst of this challenging journey, my unshakable belief in the truth and integrity of the principles of justice has been my beacon.

Despite the disheartening accusations and formidable opposition, my spirit remained optimistic, anchored in my unshakable belief that I was a clean athlete. This ordeal has been a testament to resilience, and the triumph of truth represents a bittersweet vindication that, while late, is immensely rewarding.

I extend my sincere gratitude to my legal team, whose unwavering faith and exceptional dedication have been instrumental in navigating this complicated time. Likewise, my sponsors, my loyal fans and some wonderful colleagues have been my pillars of strength, offering support and solidarity.

The extraordinary support of so many Romanians has strengthened my determination, allowing me to support this cause to a just and honorable conclusion. Looking ahead, I look forward to turning this page and joining the Tour with a renewed spirit and vigor. With love and gratitude, Simona," she wrote.

Now the nightmare is over: tomorrow Simona returns to the court and begins her second tennis life, already questioning the dominance of her rivals.

Simona Halep Paula Badosa