US Open: Simona Halep ousts Camila Giorgi; Sloane Stephens fights past Madison Keys

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US Open: Simona Halep ousts Camila Giorgi; Sloane Stephens fights past Madison Keys

Simona Halep claimed a not-so-straightforward win over Italian Camila Giorgi in the first round of the 2021 US Open. The Romanian won 6-4, 7-6(3) in an hour and 33 minutes. The Italian began the match on a dominant note by pushing Halep side-to-side and drawing out the errors from her.

However, as the match progressed, the latter settled into a rhythm that was bracing despite the visible taping to her right thigh. As Halep’s confidence grew on one side, Giorgi’s game started to unravel on the other side.

In the ninth game of the set, Halep had a couple of break points – the first of the match – with a chance to serve out the set in the 10th game. She didn’t miss, either in converting the break points or in serving the set out and was thus able to take a lead in the match.

The second set, however, proved to be difficult for the former world no. 1 to navigate. Not only did she break Giorgi twice with the opportunity to serve out the match on both occasions, but Halep also had two match points which she wasn’t able to convert.

She fared relatively better in the tie-break to take the win and move into the round-of-64. Halep won 83% points off her first serve to Giorgi’s 67%. While she hit 14 winners to Giorgi’s 16, she also had almost 50% fewer unforced errors than the Italian – 16 to the latter’s 31.

In the second round, the 12th seed will play Kristina Kucova. The Slovakian was the first winner of the opening day at Flushing Meadows, posting a 7-5, 6-1 win over American Ann Li. Garbine Muguruza survived a test against Donna Vekic in their first-round clash.

The ninth-seeded Spaniard eventually prevailed 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in two hours and 19 minutes to reach the second round. Earlier, in the second set, Muguruza led by a break before the Croatian made a stab at a comeback, pushing the set all the way into the tie-break.

In the second round, Muguruza will play either Andrea Petkovic or Irina-Camelia Begu.

US Open: Kaia Kanepi lives up to her reputation

Kaia Kanepi posted the first upset of the tournament. The Estonian clinched a comeback win over 31st seed Yulia Putintseva in their round-of-128 meeting.

Kanepi won 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in two hours and 19 minutes. In the second round, Kanepi will play Leylah Fernandez. The Canadian defeated Croatian qualifier Ana Konjuh 7-6(3), 6-2. Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine ended the road of Egyptian lucky loser Mayar Sherif in the first round.

In what was another comeback victory, Kalinina won 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 in an hour and 49 minutes. For a place in the third round, she’ll next play former champion, Sloane Stephens. In a rematch of their 2017 US Open final, Stephens survived a test against compatriot Madison Keys in the opening round, before winning 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(7) in two hours and 10 minutes.

Stephens dominated the opening set but Keys asserted herself in the second, racing to a 4-0 lead in what seemed like no time. A third break of Stephens’ serve in the second set allowed Keys to push the match into the decider.

Stephens regained her rhythm in the final set and had a couple of chances to go up a break in the ninth game. While Keys saved them in that game, two games later, she conceded the break giving her fellow countrywoman a chance to serve out the match in the 11th game.

But Stephens was thwarted and the break back helped Keys to send the match into the tie-break. Stephens brought up two match points in near-quick succession but errors put paid to her hopes. Finally, Stephens was able to convert on her third match point after Keys’ shot landed wide. Photo Credit: Andrew Ong/USTA