Simona Halep suffers upset at US Open to Kaia Kanepi

Kristopher Nichols
August 28, 2018

Simona Halep of Romania leaves Louis Armstrong Stadium after her first-round loss Monday at the U.S. Open.

2018 saw Halep make two Grand Slam finals, including her first career Grand Slam win at the French Open, but it ended in a whimper with Kanepi breaking Halep's serve five times.

Halep, who lost her opening-round match in NY a year ago to Maria Sharapova, joins a small club of No. 1 seeds who have lost in the first round of a Grand Slam in tennis's Open Era, which began in 1968.

Halep, ranked No. 1 in the world, lost to the unseeded but hard-hitting Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-4.

On a hot and humid day, Halep failed to sustain any kind of service rhythm and her usually stout defence proved no match for the powerful Kanepi's bruising groundstrokes and deft drop shots.

"It's always about the nerves", said Halep, who was beaten in the first round in NY by five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in 2017.

Despite battling back to 4-4 in the second set, Halep wasn't able to hold on.

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Eventually, Halep got going a bit, taking advantage of Kanepi's mistakes to break back twice and get to 4-all in that set, getting a lot of support from fans who repeatedly chanted her first name.

"I thought, 'I just have to be aggressive and try to stay calm,"' Kanepi said.

Kanepi advances instead, moving on to play qualifier Jil Teichmann in the second round.

Halep had looked primed for a long run in NY after she won the Rogers Cup this month and narrowly missed out on back-to-back titles after losing to Kiki Bertens in the Cincinnati final.

Seeding aside, the last world No. 1 to win the U.S. Open was Serena Williams in 2014.

The Romanian can take small consolation from the fact she has amassed enough ranking points to remain world number one after the two-week tournament ends.

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