Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki awarded Madrid Open wildcards days after conflict on the Romanian’s participation in tournaments

The Golden Swing is finally here and players are getting their schedules locked in for action on clay. Making their comebacks on the Tour, Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep are currently both relying on wildcards to avoid the trouble of playing the qualifiers.

Wozniacki came out of retirement last year having decided to call it quits on her career after her third-round defeat at the Australian Open in 2020. As for Halep, she is returning after nearly 19 months having undergone doping suspension. She was suspended after her first-round defeat at the US Open in 2022.

While the Dane is ranked 126th in the world, Halep is 1143rd in the world as per the latest ranking update. In no case, either player can make it to the main-draw directly. But the organizers of the WTA-1000 Madrid Open have been courteous enough to offer the wildcard for the two former Grand Slam singles title winners.

Apart from their record at the Major tournaments, the two have a good record in Madrid too. The Romanian is a four-time finalist, a record at the tournament. She won two of the four finals and is the second-most successful player, a joint record which she shares alongside Serena Williams and Aryna Sabalenka.

Wozniacki is yet to win the title in Madrid. She was however the first-ever runner-up of the tournament when it began in 2009 on the WTA Tour. The Dane also made the quarter-finals in 2015.

She was eventually defeated by then defending champ Maria Sharapova. Alongside Wozniacki and Halep, the Kei Nishikori and 18-year-old Spaniard Martin Landaluce are the other two wildcard entrants.

Caroline Wozniacki had recently opposed the wildcards being offered to Simona Halep

Halep’s initial suspension by the ITIA (International Tennis Integrity Agency) was for four years. She however appealed it in the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) which reduced the duration to nine months. Having already spent nearly 19 months away, she was cleared to return immediately.

She made her comeback at the 2024 Miami Open owing to a wildcard by the tournament officials. She however lost in the first round to Paula Badosa. Following her defeat, Wozniacki was critical of the tournament officials for handing a wildcard.

The Dane wasn’t critical of Halep but the officials claiming the Romanian wasn’t found innocent but her sentence had been reduced. She felt this leaves a bad influence on the younger players. Halep was quick to reply and called out Wozniacki for her comments.

The two-time singles Major winner reiterated being innocent and being given the banned supplement without her knowledge. Shockingly, Wozniacki’s comments were in line with what Halep had said when Sharapova was returning for the first time since her doping fiasco.

With an ongoing public spat, it will be interesting to see how the two react or take this dispute ahead. The 2024 Madrid Open is scheduled from 23rd April to 5th May. The first couple of days are reserved for the qualifying rounds.