In the most spectacular first-round WTA encounter on Day 1 of the US Open, wildcard Maria Sharapova ousted world No.2 Simona Halep 6-4 4-6 6-3 during the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium, continuing the despair of the Romanian who had missed four chances to grab the No.1 ranking in recent months and extending the head-to-head record against her to 7-0.
Facing a Top 10 player for the first time since her comeback from doping suspension, Sharapova opened the match with a 3-1 lead, but her break turned out to be just the first in a string of four and Halep eventually ended the break fest by holding serve for 4-all. The glamorously-clad Russian, who sported a crystal-studded black lace Nike dress that costs a whopping $500, sealed the deal in the next two games, suppressing Halep’s resistance on the first set point.
The loss of the first set must have been a big blow for Halep, who was not only haunted by the very negative career record against Sharapova, but also by the fact that Sharapova entered the match with a stunning 18-0 record in night matches at the US Open. However, Halep stayed strong, never stopped fighting and even though Sharapova raced to 4-1 in the second set, the Romanian won four consecutive games and later on saved a bunch of break points to force the decider.
Replicating the starts of the first two sets, Sharapova, currently ranked 146th, earned a 4-1 advantage and this time there was no recovery for Halep, whose backhand sailed long on the first match point of Sharapova, who fell to her knees, started to cry and gratefully exclaimed “Thank you” to the audience.
More photos from this emotional match you can find in our Monday’s US Open gallery.
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