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US Open: Halep suffers shock defeat; Serena wins

US Open: Halep suffers shock defeat; Serena wins
Simona Halep returns a shot to Kaia Kanepi during the first round of UN Open.
New York, Aug 28 (IANS) | Publish Date: 8/28/2018 12:05:04 PM IST

Top seed Simona Halep’s US Open campaign was cut short in the first round after losing to Kaia Kanepi, who needed just two sets to score the first big upset of the season’s last Grand Slam at 6-2, 6-4.

The Romanian on Monday became the first top seeded woman to lose in the US Open first round in the professional era.

Halep also lost in the first round at last year’s US Open to 2006 champion Maria Sharapova, but she was not world No. 1 at that time.

“It’s always about the nerves,” said Halep.

“Even when you are there in the top, you feel the same nerves. You are human. I’m a quiet person, so maybe I like the smaller places,” she added.

Halep, who had claimed her first Grand Slam title in Paris in June, came into the US Open 2018 flying high after a string of big results during the US Open series, lifting the title in Montreal and reaching the final in Cincinnati.

Kanepi, ranked 44th in the world, reached the quarterfinals here last year, her best result at any Grand Slam, but has struggled to find her form after suffering a series of injuries.

But it was the 33-year-old Estonian who was the fresher player on Monday, playing the first match of the day against Halep on the brand new Louis Armstrong Stadium. She fired 26 winners compared to just nine from Halep.

It was the first match at the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which now has about 14,000 seats and a retractable roof. However, Day 1 witnessed 33 degrees Celsius heat instead of rain.

Coming up next for Kanepi will be Swiss player Jil Teichmann, who made a successful main draw debut winning 6-3, 6-0 against Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams has won the first match of her return to the U.S. Open.

The No. 17 seed beat Magda Linette 6-4, 6-0 in the opening match of the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Williams missed last year’s U.S. Open and gave birth to her daughter during the tournament.

She could play older sister Venus, the No. 16 seed, in the third round.

Also, 12th seed Garbine Muguruza thrashed Zhang Shuai 6-3 6-0. Seventh seed Elina Svitolina saw off Sachia Vickery 6-3 1-6 6-1 and Karolina Pliskova, runner-up two years ago, was a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) winner against Zarina Diyas.

Murray, Nadal make winning start
Andy Murray made a winning start to his US Open campaign after defeating Australian James Duckworth in four sets to reach the second round at Flushing Meadows.
Former champion Murray dropped the opening set but gradually began to take control and he battled back to dispatch the 448th-ranked Australian 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-5 6-3.
Murray was making his first appearance at a Grand Slam since last year’s Wimbledon after almost a year out of the game.
The Scot, playing just his fifth tournament of the year after undergoing hip surgery in January, has slumped to 382 in the world, but he looked encouragingly fresh as he wrapped up victory after three hours and 18 minutes.
Murray will next meet Spain’s Fernando Verdasco for a place in the last 32 after the 34-year-old defeated fellow countryman Feliciano Lopez 6-2 7-5 6-4.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal reached the second round in unfortunate circumstances with opponent David Ferrer forced to retire during his final grand slam match.
Ferrer called it quits on a hot and humid night on Arthur Ashe Stadium when he led 4-3 with a break in the second set. The former world number three was clearly struggling with a left calf injury and retired in the second set after fellow Spaniard Nadal had taken the opener 6-3.

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