Kanepi stuns top-ranked Simona Halep

- ASSOCIATED PRESS, Kathmandu

Aug 29, 2018-

Some players, like top-ranked Simona Halep, freely acknowledge they don’t deal well with the hustle-and-bustle of the US Open and all it entails.

Others, like 44th-ranked Kaia Kanepi, take to the Big Apple and its Grand Slam tournament. Put those two types at opposite ends of a court at Flushing Meadows and watch what can happen: Halep made a quick-as-can-be exit on Monday, overwhelmed by the power-based game of Kanepi 6-2, 6-4 to become the first No 1-seeded woman to lose her opening match at the US Open in the half-century of the professional era.

Since professionals first were allowed to enter Grand Slam tournaments in 1968, only five times before Monday did women seeded No 1 lose their opening match at a major—and never at the US Open. It happened twice to Martina Hingis and once to Steffi Graf at Wimbledon, once to Angelique Kerber at the French Open and once to Virginia Ruzici at the Australian Open.

On the first day that featured the major tournament debut of 25-second serve clocks, Halep blamed opening-round jitters, a recurring theme throughout her career. The reigning French Open champion has now lost her first match at 12 of 34 career major appearances, a stunningly high rate for such an accomplished player.

Her departure means she can’t stand in the way of Serena Williams, who could have faced Halep in the fourth round. Williams, the 23-time major champion who missed last year’s US Open because she gave birth on September 1, returned with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Magda Linette. Williams, a six-time winner at Flushing Meadows, moved a step

closer to a possible third-round matchup against her older sister, two-time winner Venus, who defeated 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Others making the second round included defending champion and No 3 seed Sloane Stephens, two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka, and two-time major champ Garbine Muguruza.

Four seeded men lost, including No 8 Grigor Dimitrov against three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, No 16 Kyle Edmund and No 19 Roberto Bautista Agut. Andy Murray, whose three major titles include the 2012 US Open, played his first Grand Slam match in more than a year and won, eliminating James Duckworth 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal advanced when the man he beat in the 2013 French Open final, David Ferrer, stopped in the second set because of an injury, while 2009 champ Juan Martin del Potro beat Donald Young.

Published: 29-08-2018 08:25

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