Simona Halep's Miami Open preparations are underway

Halep is in Miami practicing for her first tournament in 18 months

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We are one week away from Simona Halep's return to professional tennis at the 2024 Miami Open. Halep received a wildcard from tournament director James Blake to participate in the Miami Open days after the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced her suspension to time already served.

Though Halep has been waiting 18 months for a resolution to her case, she has obviously been training. She is already in Miami practicing onsite. Halep looks happy and relaxed with her team including her good friend acting as her coach, Portuguese tennis player Joao Monteiro.

Given all that has happened to her, it makes sense that she would keep her circle small and tight. Monteiro is a long-time friend who was believed to be more than that to Halep last fall, but Halep took to social media to set the record straight.

What can we expect from Halep at Miami?

We have seen the model of what happens when players take extended time away from the WTA Tour. Whether it is prolonged injuries or maternity leave, it is extremely difficult to make an immediate impact. It is an act of patience and perseverance that Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka, Emma Raducanu, and Angelique Kerber are currently working through.

Being physically fit and practicing often is not enough preparation for the rigors of the WTA Tour. Match play with its ebbs and flows and need for persistent mental focus and good shotmaking has to be relearned through tour-level play.

If it were easy, everyone would be an immediate success story. The fact that it is not just means that Halep may not make an immediate impact in terms of wins and losses at the Miami Open, but her return is a victory in itself. She will need to persist by picking up wildcards through the spring and summer to hopefully begin to see results.

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