June 21, 2024
Simona Halep

Wozniacki-Halep

Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep’s Wildcard war of words could again raise its head after both women were handed a place at one of the biggest events of the clay court season.

Wozniacki and Halep, both Grand Slam champions and former world No 1 players, will be in action at the Madrid Open after receiving Wildcards into the WTA 1000 event.

It is set to be the second tournament of Halep’s comeback after returning from her doping suspension at the Miami Open, while Wozniacki will continue her ongoing return from retirement after making her comeback last summer.

It will come as no surprise to see both the Dane and the Romanian being handed berths into the Madrid main draw, with the players popular and respected figures within the global game.

However, it is a decision that will likely fuel the flames of the debate about whether Halep should be handed Wildcards into tournaments, with Wozniacki perhaps the most outspoken critic of the Romanian’s return so far.

Speaking at the Miami Open – where she also received a Wildcard – the 33-year-old revealed she disagreed with Halep being handed a main draw spot, staying consistent with the stance she previously took against Maria Sharapova.

Wozniacki said: “I’ve been very outspoken in the past about how I feel about doping and all of that. I have always wanted a clean sport, fair for everybody. I think it’s definitely still my opinion.

“This is not directly at Simona, but if someone purposely cheats, if someone has tested positive for doping it’s my personal belief that I don’t think people should be awarded Wildcards afterwards.

“If you want to come back, and it’s been a mistake, I understand, you should work your way up from the bottom.”

Simona Halep was able to make a sudden return to tennis in Miami after her ban was cut from four years to nine months and was critical of Wozniacki’s comments following her first match since 2022, a three-set loss to Paula Badosa.

“Why did she say that? I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Halep. “I didn’t cheat. I didn’t dope. So it’s better if we read the decision from CAS that it was a contaminated supplement, it wasn’t doping.

“I never had something to do with doping. I never doped, so I’m not a cheater. Thank you to the tournament for giving me the Wildcard and having the possibility to play in such a big tournament. It was great to be back.”

Halep will certainly be hoping for some Madrid magic in the Spanish capital, competing at one of the most successful tournaments of her career.

The Romanian claimed consecutive titles at the tournament in 2016 and 2017, beating Dominika Cibulkova and Kristina Mladenovic respectively in those finals, and was also a beaten finalist in 2014 and 2019.

Wozniacki has also had some success at the event in the past, reaching the final back at the event in 2009.

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