US Open: Halep crashes out in first round

Simona Halep was knocked out in the first round of the US Open for the second year in a row, losing to 33-year-old Estonian Kaia Kanepi.

Simona Halep in action at the US Open.   -  AFP

Kaia Kanepi pulled off a major upset on day one of the US Open with a straight-sets defeat of world number one Simona Halep.

Halep was blown away by the 33-year-old Estonian in the first match at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, losing 6-2, 6-4 on a warm Monday in New York.

The composed 44-ranked Kanepi outplayed the top seed with a mixture of power and precision to send shock waves around Flushing Meadows.

It was a second straight first-round exit at Flushing Meadows for French Open champion Halep, who dropped her opening match to Maria Sharapova last year.

 

The unseeded Kanepi reached the quarter-finals of the US Open last year and will face Jil Teichmann in round two after breaking five times and hitting 26 winners in an aggressive performance to claim a huge scalp.

Kanepi took to the court with a strapped left shoulder but generated fearsome power from the start, going after the Halep first serve and breaking with a perfectly executed lob for a 2-1 lead.

The underdog went from strength to strength, unleashing rasping winners from both wings to consolidate the early break before going a double break up at 4-1 courtesy of a magnificent deep return.

Halep was flustered and found herself a set down in only 28 minutes when the flawless Kanepi held to love with a forehand winner.

A furious Halep marched off court for a new racket, which did not last long as she smashed it into the hard court to earn herself a code violation after Kanepi broke in the opening game of the second set.

A struggling Halep looked short of ideas as she went 3-0 down, but Kanepi gifted her a first break with a double fault in the next game.

The momentum was with a battling Halep when she got back on serve at 4-4 with a break to love, but unforced errors gave Kanepi the chance to serve out the match.

Kanepi stepped forward to let fly with a powerful forehand to earn two match points and only needed the one.


STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Kanepi beat Halep [1] 6-4 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Kanepi –26/28
Halep – 9/9

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Kanepi – 1/3
Halep – 1/0

BREAK POINTS WON
Kanepi – 5/7
Halep – 2/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Kanepi – 70
Halep – 66

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Kanepi – 64/57
Halep – 66/59

TOTAL POINTS
Kanepi – 59
Halep – 47