The 23-year-old Taylor Townsend was on the verge of exit in the final qualifying round at the US Open against Nina Stojanovic, prevailing 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 to find herself in the main draw, beating Katerina Kozlova to set the second-round clash against Simona Halep.
Wimbledon champion had lost in the first round in the previous two US Open campaigns and her 2019 run in only slightly better, wasting a match point in a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 loss in two hours and four minutes! The Romanian had 23 winners and as many unforced errors, not enough against a super-aggressive rival who hit 39 winners and 42 mistakes, with Taylor rushing to the net more and more often to break Halep's pattern fro the baseline and keep the points on her racquet at any cost.
Simona took four points more overall but not the most important ones, unable to impose her shots and maintain longer rallies that would have given her the upper hand. The American never defeated a player from the top-10 before and there was nothing to lose after a slow start, changing tactics from set number two and battling for one of the biggest triumphs in a career and the deepest run at Majors since Roland Garros 2014.
Halep had 11 chances for a break and converted only four, getting broken three times and finishing on the losing side despite a valiant effort against the rival who gave her nothing to work with in the bigger part of the encounter.
Fending off two break points in the second game of the match, Simona found the zone on both serve and return, rattling off 21 of the last 26 points for a 6-2 after breaks in games five and seven, closing the set with a service winner after 31 minutes.
Townsend replaced 16 unforced errors from the opening set with some marvelous hitting, breaking Simona in games two and four and clinching the set with a service winner for a 6-3 and a decider in swift 64 minutes. There, Taylor was rushing to the next in every point on serve, producing some incredible volleys and opening a 5-3 lead with a break in game five.
Returning at 4-5, Townsend showed a spirit of a true champion, fending off two match points to keep herself in after a break that leveled the score at 5-5. Halep squandered that break chance in the 11th game and saved a match point in the next game to reach a tie break that Taylor won 7-4 with three mini-breaks for an incredible win in front of the home fans and the place in the third round.