Madrid Open: Naomi Osaka, Monica Puig receive wildcards

Four-time major champion Japan’s Naomi Osaka and former Olympic gold medalist Puerto Rican Monica Puig are among the five players who have received main-draw wildcards for the 2022 Madrid Open, which begins on April 28.

The former World No 1 Osaka was a quarterfinalist at the WTA 1000 tournament in 2019. After playing a limited number of matches in 2021 while dealing with mental health struggles, the 24-year-old gave notice of her resurgence with a run to the Miami final last month.

Following her loss to Iga Swiatek there, Osaka declared her intention of committing to the clay season and using that as a springboard to chase down a return to No 1.

On the other hand, Puig, whose run at Rio 2016 made for a memorable Olympic underdog story, has been sidelined by injury for most of the past three years. The Puerto Rican has undergone three surgeries since 2019 – the first on her elbow and two on her shoulder — and was unable to defend her gold medal at last year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

Puig has not competed since Roland Garros 2020 and last won a match at Luxembourg 2019.

The remaining three main-draw wildcards have been awarded to rising teenage talents: Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk (19 year), China’s Zheng Qinwen (19 year) and the Czech Republic’s Linda Fruhvirtova (16 year), a WTA report said on Wednesday.

Kostyuk debuted in the Top 50 at the end of 2021 after reaching three semifinals on the WTA Tour that season, while Zheng has rocketed into the Top 100 this year and collected a notable victory over Sloane Stephens in Charleston.

Meanwhile, Fruhvirtova turned heads in Miami by reaching the fourth round as a wildcard ranked No.279, upsetting Elise Mertens and Victoria Azarenka en route.

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