April 10, 2024

Open Court


INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Just a couple of hours after the completion of the women’s singles final at Indian Wells, the singles draw for the Miami Open was released.

And yes, we’ll do it all again.

Fans of Simona Halep, whose successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport resulted in her doping suspension being reduced and allowed her to return to play immediately, were anxiously awaiting her first opponent in more than a year and a half.

And, of course, the draw gods decreed it would be a fascinating matchup against another former top player trying to put together a comeback of her own.

Halep will play Paula Badosa, who has been trying (unsuccessfully so far) to come back from a stress fracture in her back.

The winner, the draw gods decreed, will have to play No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

(Photo: Tennis Canada, Toronto 2022)

Great early-round matchups

The top 32 players are seeded and have first-round byes, with the last in Anhelina Kalinina, ranked No. 35.

Still, with wild cards like Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams, Halep, and unseeded Naomi Osaka, the first rounds of 96-player 1000 draws have never had so much intrigue.

Venus Williams will play young Russian lefty Diana Shnaider, which won’t be easy judging by how gingerly Williams moved in her match at Indian Wells.

Wozniacki will meet Clara Burel of France.

Another comebacker, Angelique Kerber, gets a tough opener in Sloane Stephens.

Donna Vekic and Karolina Pliskova is another intriguing first-rounder.

For Canadian Leylah Fernandez, who is the No. 31 seed, a first-round bye will be followed by either Tatjana Maria (a rematch of the San Diego match two weeks ago in which she retired with a shoulder issue) or a qualifier/lucky loser.

Looming ahead for her would be No. 5 seed Jessica Pegula.

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