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Simona Halep Loses First Match After 18 Months Doping Ban In Miami Open

Simona Halep Loses First Match After 18 Months Doping Ban In Miami Open

For the first time in 18 months, former world No. 1 Simona Halep returned to the Miami Open after serving out her doping violation ban. However, despite her efforts, Halep was unable to advance past the first round. She faced a formidable challenge from world No. 80 Paula Badosa.

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Halep came out all guns blazing like a woman on a mission against Badosa. The Spanish had pulled out from the BNP Paribas Open two weeks ago due to a lingering low back injury. She earned a statement victory on Tuesday, rallying 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the second round.

We (both) haven’t played much and also today it wasn’t very easy because it was windy, but I think we played pretty good. Especially at the end, it was a big battle,” Badosa told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj after her victory.

I’m really happy that I got the win because for me, Simona is a tough one, especially mentally. I played a few times against her, and I struggled a lot so for me it was a big win.”

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Simona Halep’s Redemption: From Suspension to Miami Open Return

Simona has also had to endure a long journey until this moment. She was suspended back in October 2022 after testing positive for roxadustat. It is a banned substance well-known in professional cycling. Halep has always maintained her innocence, and what followed was a nearly year-and-a-half long battle to return to competition.

Initially handed a four-year ban by the ITIA, which itself took almost a year to be determined, Halep appealed to CAS. Following the appeal, her ban was shortened to nine months, rendering her eligible to participate in the Miami Open with a wild card provided by tournament director James Blake.

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Playing so well, feeling so well on court, feeling so well outside of the court with so many people that are very nice to me and giving me love, I would say that this day is going to stay very special for me,” Halep reflected afterward. “Of course, I had many results in the past, big results. But here it’s something more than tennis, it’s something personal

Thank you to the tournament for giving me the wild card and having the possibility to play in such a big tournament. It was great to be back.”

I was really suffering at the first set, but I tried to stay very positive. It’s not easy, because honestly I’m not with confidence because I haven’t played much,” Badosa said. “This injury has been very tough for me.”

I hope I can play a lot of matches and get that ‘Paula’ again, mentally a strong Paula. Hopefully that happens soon and I can get back to my level.”

Paula will face good friend and No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka awaits in the second round.