Halep falls to Badosa in return from doping ban, Latest Tennis News - The New Paper

Halep falls to Badosa in return from doping ban

MIAMI – Paula Badosa spoiled Simona Halep's return from a doping ban, fighting back to claim a gritty 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 win on March 19 to move into the second round of the Miami Open and set up what is sure to be an emotion-packed match with Aryna Sabalenka.

Halep had been the player in the spotlight coming into Miami after accepting a wild card when her four-year suspension was cut to nine months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Playing her first match since a first-round loss at the 2022 US Open, Halep displayed few signs of rust against the 80th ranked Spaniard in a rampaging opening set that saw her break a misfiring Badosa three times as a small but excited crowd chanted "Si-Mon-ah. Si-Mon-Ah".

The 32-year-old Romanian spark plug showed she can still make all the shots and had lost none of her trademark terrier like determination running down ball after ball.

But 18 months away from competition was always going to exact a toll.

In the second set it was Badosa taking the initiative as Halep began to show the first signs of fatigue and needed her shoulder massaged at a changeover while the Spaniard held steady to level the match.

The third set turned into a dog fight with Badosa again getting the early break to go ahead 2-1 only to have a battling Halep immediately break back.

But Badosa would continue to apply pressure and break the Wimbledon and French Open winner a second time, the effort leaving the exhausted Romanian slumped over her racquet at the baseline.

With little in reserve, Halep's resistance melted and Badosa moved in for the kill finishing off her opponent with another break.

simona halepSUICIDESdopingWOMEN'S TENNIS