Details: Simona Halep suffers unfortunate setback at start of clay season

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Halep was slated to kick off her clay season next week but it won’t be happening after a setback sustained in practice.

Simona Halep has suffered a slight setback at the start of the clay season as the former world No. 1 is withdrawing from a WTA 125 tournament in Oeiras due to a knee injury.

Last week, two-time Grand Slam champion Halep accepted a main draw wildcard into next week’s Oeiras event to start her clay season in Portugal. At the time when the news were confirmed, the 32-year-old Romanian was already practicing on clay.

This week, everything was going as planned until Wednesday, when Halep started experiencing pain and discomfort in her knee. Halep didn’t panic, instead she decided to also practice on Thursday and see what would happen.

Unfortunately, the pain was also there on Thursday and the two-time Grand Slam champion made a precautionary but also a reasonable decision to skip Oeiras.

The news was first revealed by Romanian media.

She withdrew because of knee pain that she felt at the end of Wednesday’s practice. She wanted to see how she feels today and the pain was still there. pic.twitter.com/OVpCANr2A6

“Change of plans! My body is telling me it needs more time to adjust to being back in full training. I don’t want to rush as I make my comeback so I won’t be playing in Oeiras next week,” Halep said in a statement posted on her Instagram Story.

Halep entering a WTA 125 tournament to start the clay season was deemed a great move

After being sidelined for a year and a half and returning to tennis only last month, it was clear that Halep needed matches and time to slowly get herself back into rhythm and form.

When it was revealed that Halep would start her clay season at a WTA 125 tournament, it made so much sense because it was a perfect opportunity to get some action and probably wins since Oeiras is a lower-tier tournament. Later, the two-time Grand Slam champion herself indicated that those were the reasons why she accepted to play Oeiras.

“I’m very excited to add a new tournament to my calendar,” Halep said in a statement last week after being confirmed for Oeiras.

“On my return to the WTA circuit I intend to play as many matches as possible and accepting this wildcard gives me the opportunity to do so in front of the Portuguese public. I want to thank the tournament for having me and I can’t wait to be there.”

Where Halep plays next after the Oeiras withdrawal?

Before being given a main draw wildcard for Oeiras, Halep was announced as a main draw wildcard recipient for a WTA 1000 tournament in Madrid, which starts on April 23rd.

When Halep returns to Madrid later this month, she will be returning to a very familiar place where she had lots of success in the past. So far, the 32-year-old Romanian has made 11 appearances on the clay courts of Madrid – made four finals – and won two titles.

While Halep was one of the top favorites for the Madrid title in the past, that won’t be the case this year since she is still very early in her comeback and will likely need some time before she starts contending for titles again. However, playing in Madrid could definitely bring some good feelings in Halep and maybe lead to a few wins and ultimately a solid result, which would be enough for the Romanian.

So far in her comeback, Halep has played just one match in Miami – where she was up by a set before Paula Badosa came back to beat her 1-6 6-4 6-3.

“After the first five points that I lost, I was pretty nervous (smiling). I just thought that it’s going to be tough. I didn’t know actually what to expect. But then slowly I got back the rhythm. I took the first game,” Halep said after the match.

“Then I just relaxed myself and I said, Okay, I’m not that bad, it’s going to be okay. I just had to believe and to just be focused. I knew it’s going to be tough, but it was really good in the end.”

Although Halep lost against Badosa, she felt like a winner that day.

“I would rate it as a special day, honestly, considering the period I had. Playing so well, feeling so well on court, feeling so well outside of the court with so many people that are very nice to me and giving me the love, I would say that this day is going to stay very special for me,” Halep said after playing her first match back.

“Of course, I had many results in the past, big results. But here it’s something more than tennis, it’s something personal. I really love to see that people are appreciating me beside tennis and beside everything that happened.”

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