Emma Raducanu finds out her fate at the Miami Open, and Simona Halep gets a tough comeback draw.
Emma Raducanu finds out her fate at the Miami Open, and Simona Halep gets a tough comeback draw.

Along with her WTA rivals, Simona Halep knows who she will play in the Miami Open, which starts on Monday. And she has a big first round match in Florida against the Spanish star Paulo Badosa.

Halep, who has won two Grand Slams, is coming back after successfully fighting a four-year doping ban. The ban was cut to nine months and has now been served. A wild card let her into the event, along with Venus Williams, Emma Raducanu, and the former US Open winner.

Only the top 32 players have to play in the first round of the Miami Open. However, there are a lot of big stars in the first round. Raducanu, Naomi Osaka, and Caroline Wozniacki are just a few of the Grand Slam winners who are not ranked.

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Raducanu got into the event as a “wild card,” even though she has just had three surgeries and is still recovering. One of her last events in 2023 was the Miami Open. After that, she took a break to have surgery.

Now, Raducanu will play Wang Xiyu in the first round, which could happen on Tuesday or Wednesday. The winner of the 2021 US Open has never played the world No. 52.

Wang had a good start to the year when she made it to the semi-finals in Auckland. But she had a hard time winning in Australia and the Middle East. Things got better in Austin, where she lost in the final of the WTA 250 event.

So far, Raducanu’s season has been even, with 5 wins and 5 losses. One of her best matches was at Indian Wells, where she won two matches in a row for the first time in 2024.

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In the first round, she easily beat Rebeka Masarova. In the second round, she was ahead of Dayana Yastremska 4-0 when Yastremska had to quit. Even though Raducanu lost to No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, she fought hard and even challenged the Australian Open winner in the second set before losing 6-3, 7-5.

But Halep will almost certainly be the centre of attention as she competes for the first time since August 2022.

Halep, who used to be ranked No. 1 in the world, was briefly banned from tennis in October 2022 after testing positive for the drug roxadustat at the US Open.

She was also charged with another crime because her Athlete Biological Passport was not filled out correctly. An independent court confirmed both charges last summer, which led to a four-year ban.

But Halep took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport last month. The CAS court dropped the ABP charge and agreed with Halep that the roxadustat came from a tainted supplement. This meant that Halep’s ban was cut from twelve months to nine months.

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The Miami Open quickly gave the Romanian player a wildcard after this ruling.

Her return won’t be easy, though. The first match for Halep is against Badosa, who used to be ranked second in the world. The winner will then play Sabalenka, who is ranked second. Over the past year, Badosa has been hurt in her back and has had to pull out of several events.

She pulled out of Indian Wells last week, so it’s not clear if she will be ready to play Halep. If the 2021 Indian Wells winner is healthy, though, she could be a tough opponent.

Wozniacki, who used to be ranked No. 1, will play Clara Burel in the first round, while Osaka will play Elisabetta Cocciaretto. The match will be between Venus Williams, who is 43 years old, and Diana Shnaider.

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