By Ros Satar
- Simona Halep became just the sixth WTA No. 1 to exit a Slam in an opening round, and the first at the US Open
NEW YORK, USA – There was no shortage of drama at the US Open on the first day, as Women’s No. 1 seed Simona Halep was ousted in the first round by Kaia Kanepi.
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Kaia Kanepi def. Simona Halep  6-2 6-4
It is no surprise to many that Kaia Kanepi is capable of solid performances at a Slam – she reached the quarter-final here last year for the second time. Christening the new Louis Armstrong stadium in the first match of the day, the World No. 1 no doubt Simona Halep could have done without the dubious statistic of becoming just the sixth No. 1 in the Open Era to depart in the first round of a Slam, and even more so – the first to do it at the US Open.
Kanepi played the perfect match, roaring through the first set only dropping one game and it looked as though she was going to repeat the performance in the second set, before Halep seemed to wake herself up, perhaps remembering she was in the same position at this year’s Roland Garros before gaining momentum in both the match and over the fortnight to claim her maiden Slam.
There was to be no such resurgence, but instead a repeat of last year’s result, where Halep bowed out to a blockbuster opener against Maria Sharapova.
The World No. 1 will actually still hold on to the top spot no matter who wins the tournament, but the real impact means it could open up the draw nicely for Serena Williams, who was set to face Halep if she made it to the fourth round.
A long rest looks likely for Halep, who looked as though she had run out of steam in the Cincinnati final, before pulling out of New Haven.
For Halep, who has been as far as the semi-final in 2015, and the quarter-final in 2016, this is her second first round exit a row, and perhaps her confidence is now a little shot when it comes to New York.
As reported by the WTA, Halep said: ““Today I just lost. I didn’t play great, but she played really well. I knew that she can play well here. She played quarterfinals last year. I didn’t find the balance today. I couldn’t play better. So that’s it.
“It just was a bad day. And I never play my best tennis here, even if I did quarterfinals, semifinals. I just say that I don’t really feel 100% my game when I step on the court here. But maybe in the future it’s gonna change something, I will change something and it will be better.”
There was no such reflection for Kanepi, who said: “I think the courts suit my game, and I love being in New York. I like the city. I like the atmosphere in tournaments and in the city, also. And I like the weather: humid and hot.”
Halep is next scheduled to play in at Wuhan at the end of September.
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