Simona Halep suffered a shocking 6-2 6-4 defeat to Kaia Kanepi in the 2018 Us Open curtain-raiser. World number one retrieved a double break in the second set to get back to 4-4 but the Romanian got broken again and the Estonian held to serve out the match.
The contest was all about Kanepi who stepped up big and played big the whole match against the Romanian. Kanepi, who came within two points of victory before losing their lone encounter at 2014 Doha, was asked what was the secret to her win over Halep, BBC reported.
Estonian world number 44 responded: "I stayed aggressive all the time." She couldn't be more precise as she managed to drill 26 winners to Halep's 9 and 28 unforced errors to 9. The current match wins leader on tour (46-8), Halep also led the way for hardcourt wins (28-4) but Kanepi, a quarterfinalist last year as a qualifier, claimed her first win over a Top 20 opponent since 2015 Madrid.
One of 13 Grand Slam champions in the draw, Halep became just the sixth top-seeded woman to lose her opening Grand Slam opening match in the Open Era, the first at the U.S. Open, after Virginia Ruzici at 1979 Australian Open, Steffi Graf at 1994 Wimbledon, Martina Hingis at 1999 and 2001 Wimbledon and Angelique Kerber at 2017 Wimbledon.
Of the 34 Grand Slam tournaments SHalep has played in, she has gone out in the first round on 12 occasions. Making her 11th main draw appearance in Flushing Meadows, last year Kanepi completed the best result by a qualifier at U.S.
Open since Barbara Gerken did so in 1981. One of 22 thirtysomethings in this year’s draw, Kanepi sealed her second career win over reigning World No.1, after she became first Estonian to defeat World No.1 at 2011 Tokyo [PPO] (Wozniacki), to extend to 25-16 her mark in the first-rounds of majors, including a 9-2 record at U.S.
Open where she hasn’t lost her debut match since 2009 (K.Chang). Kanepi, unable to win back-to-back WTA main draw matches since the 2018 Australian Open, will meet Jil Teichmann, who beat 6-3 6-0 Dalila Jakupovic in the first completed match win of the tournament.
No.7 seed Elina Svitolina powered into the second round of the US Open thanks to a 6-3, 1-6, 6-0 victory over Sachia Vickery who broke in the very first game before Svitolina claimed five straight games. In the second set, mistakes became commonplace as she hit 11 unforced errors and just one winner.
Vickery, entering play at No.70, has recorded two of her three career Grand Slam wins in New York, coming in 2013 (d. Lucic-Baroni) and her most recent appearance in 2017 (d. Vikhlyantseva). Her aggressive approach, however, failed to produce a stunning comeback while the Ukrainian maintained her relentless consistency.
Making her 25th Grand Slam main draw appearance, Svitolina extended her 19-6 record in major opening matches, most recently falling at this stage at 2018 Wimbledon (l. Maria). The No.7 seed, her 16th consecutive seeding at a Slam, and seventh as a Top 10 seed, claimed her 24th hard court win this season, trailing only Halep (28), in her bid to equal her best results to date at Grand Slam level, the quarter-finals showings at 2015 Roland Garros (l.
Ivanovic), 2017 Roland Garros (l. eventual R‐Up Halep) and 2018 Australian Open (l. Mertens). She will now face Tatjana Maria who dismissed Agnieszka Radwanska.