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By Alberto Amalfi | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Paula Badosa spoiled Simona Halep's comeback—then praised her potential with a bold prediction.

Former world No. 2 Badosa rallied for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Halep in her Miami Open opener on Tuesday.

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It was Halep's first Tour-level match since she lost in the 2022 US Open first round.

Though the former world No. 1 showed signs of rust due to her long layoff—Halep committed 10 double faults and face 11 break points in the two-hour match—her strokes were sound, she looked fit and hit her two-handed backhand with vigor.

Asked to assess Halep's game and future, Badosa predicted Halep will "be back on top very soon."

"Even if Simona is 10 years without competing she's still Simona," Badosa told the media in Miami. "She's a big player. She's win so many titles. I respect her so much.

"I mean, today I was impressed. I think she's going to be back on the top very soon.

"These kind of players, you can never doubt about them because they've been great champions."

Halep successfully appealed her four-year doping ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland last month, winning a reduced sentence of four months that enabled her to return to tennis in Miami.

After suffering two blow-out losses to the two-time Grand Slam champion, Badosa was pleased to beat Halep for the first time.

"The last two matches against Simona were really tough mentally," said Badosa, who a total of seven games in her two 2022 losses to Halep. "Today I know even that for me she hasn't been playing since long time, for me was the same because she's still Simona Halep.

"Yeah, I'm really happy that I got the win and could fight until the end, and mentally I could get through that."

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis