Ranked Halep crashes out of US Open first round

Halep won the French Open in June for her first Grand Slam title and is assured of remaining at No. 1 after the US Open, even with her first-round departure.

World number 44 Kanepi earned the first break when she launched a back-hand lob over Halep's head to jump out to a 2-1 lead and went on to win five of the first six games while winning 80 per cent of her first serve points in the set.

But this is the second year in a row the Romanian exits the U.S. Open in the first round. The current match wins leader on tour (46-8), Halep also led the way for hardcourt wins (28-4) but Kanepi, a quarterfinalist a year ago as a qualifier, claimed her first win over a Top 20 opponent since 2015 Madrid.

Simona Halep's US Open campaign lasted just an hour and 15 minutes as she became the first women's top seed in the Open era to lose in the first round.

On a hot and humid day, Halep failed to sustain any kind of service rhythm and her usually stout defence proved no match for the powerful Kanepi's bruising groundstrokes and deft drop shots.

The only consolation for Halep is that she has amassed enough ranking points to remain world number one after the two-week tournament in NY.

There would be no such turnaround for her against Kanepi, a big hitter who dictated the points to claim her second career win against a top-ranked player - but first top-20 victory since 2015.

Eventually, Halep got going a bit, taking advantage of Kanepi's mistakes to break back twice and get to 4-all in that set, getting a lot of support from fans who repeatedly chanted her first name.

"I didn't play great, but she played really well".

"I was thinking about that: Why (did) they cheer so much for her?"

Simona Halep won in Montreal this summer, and looked superb while doing it. Making her 11th main draw appearance in Flushing Meadows, a year ago Kanepi completed the best result by a qualifier at U.S. She pulled out of last week's Connecticut Open with an Achilles injury.

  • Angelo Rivera