Second seed Simona Halep survived a scare at the U.S. Open by overtaking American wild card Danielle Collins 6-7 (2) 6-1 6-2 in Monday`s opening center court match. The French Open finalist moves on to face Slovakian Jana Cepelova, a 2-6 7-5 6-1 winner over Spain`s Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, in the second round of the season`s last grand slam.
Halep was not the only high seed who struggled in the first round of the women's draw. No. 6 Angelique Kerber needed three sets to get by Ksenia Pervak, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. No. 18 Andrea Petkovic struggled before she beat Ons Jabeur, 7-6 (7), 1-6, 6-3. Even tour veteran No. 19 Venus Williams, who has had a rebound summer, needed three sets to take out Kimiko Date-Krumm 2,6, 6-3, 6-3.
The 22-year-old Romanian didn't break into the Top 10 until January, but her ascent has been quick and decisive. Last year she was the No. 21 US Open seed and reached the round of 16 before losing to Flavia Pennetta. She arrives at Flushing Meadows as the No. 2 seed -- and being a favorite is a new challenge for her.
"It's not easy," Halep said. "It's a little bit of pressure. I can say more pressure because everyone is telling me that I have chance to win this title. But still I'm very far. I have to take match by match and to see if I can win more matches here. Every match like today was tough, and every match is tough here."
Except perhaps for Serena Williams and Roger Federer, the star who has made the most appearances during U.S. Open night sessions might be the actor Alec Baldwin. A longtime supporter of the sport, Baldwin was in his customary front-row seat at Arthur Ashe Stadium watching the first night match of the 2014 tournament — Maria Sharapova vs. Maria Kirilenko — when a ball bounded his way. Ever the pro, Baldwin caught it with aplomb and a distinct Jack Donaghy swagger.
Sharapova followed up a flashy opening night ceremony on center court at the U.S. Open with some flashy tennis of her own Monday. Sharapova, a five-time major tournament winner, who is seeded No. 5 here, dropped behind in the first set, 4-2. Her opponent was her longtime friend from Russia, Maria Kirilenko, who was one of three players ever to beat Sharapova in her 44 opening-round Grand Slam tournament matches.
"It's tough to start here in New York City," she said afterward. She also said that, having missed last year's U.S. Open with an injury, she was happy to be back. She has won all four of the major tournaments at least once and took her U.S. Open title in 2006. "I missed this court," she said of Arthur Ashe Stadium and its 22,500 seats.
No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada has been struggling since reaching the Wimbledon final this summer, having gone 1-3 during the Emirates Airline US Open Series. However, she found her best form again in her US Open first-round match on Louis Armstrong Stadium against Olga Govortsova of Belarus and easily prevailed, 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.
Govortsova, a 26-year-old ranked No. 120 in the world, failed to convert three break points on Bouchard’s serve at 2-2 in the first set. From there the 20-year-old Canadian raised the level of her game considerably. Hitting her backhands with more height and waiting for her opportunities to attack, she broke Govortsova in the next game when the Belarusian sent a backhand long and easily won the next two games to wrap up the set.
The second set was all Bouchard. A forehand passing shot on the run raised gasps from the crowd as she broke Govortsova to earn a 2-0 lead. As Govortsova began to get frustrated by the level of play from Bouchard, her own game began to fall apart with several unforced errors. Even strokes of luck went the way of Bouchard, as she hit a netcord winner on break point to take a 5-1 lead.
Bouchard converted on her first match point with a backhand error from Govortsova, wrapping up the match in just under an hour. She will be pleased with her overall stats in the match, hitting 19 winners overall and only committing four unforced errors in the second set. "I'm happy to get a match under my belt and want to keep it rolling this week," said Bouchard. "I love playing the Grand Slams and just want to raise my level at the biggest stages and the biggest matches."
Caroline Wozniacki hasn’t had the best summer. Her ex-fiancé Rory McIlroy won two majors — the British Open and PGA Championship — and has become the best golfer on the planet. Meanwhile, Wozniacki has won just one singles tournament in 16 attempts in 2014, including a disappointing first-round exit at the French Open and a fourth-place finish at Wimbledon.
During her second-round US Open match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Wednesday, Wozniacki got her hair stuck in her racket as she was about to return a volley.
During her second-round US Open match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Wednesday, Wozniacki got her hair stuck in her racket as she was about to return a volley. The mishap didn’t faze Wozniacki, though, as she won in straight sets to secure a place in the third round.
"I was like, okay, which way is it tangled? ... I was like, maybe if I pull it, it will untangle itself. But it just didn't happen," she said. "I just laughed [when I saw the replay]. We women keep it interesting." She dug deep and overcame the hair malfunction to win in straight sets.
CiCi Bellis could not quite prolong the fairytale, but she extended her stay long enough to dominate for a second day at the US Open. The American 15-year-old succumbed 6-3 0-6 6-2 to Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas, with the world number 48 finally ending the teenager's challenge at 9.57pm local time on Thursday.
Bellis had been the talk of Flushing Meadows following her stunning win over 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova on Tuesday. Anticipation for her second-round match among the 37,922 spectators who came through the gates on day four overshadowed some of the biggest names in the sport on show elsewhere.
With sirens wailing and music blaring in the background at various points throughout nearly two hours of action, Bellis hit 21 rasping winners and had to be told to slow down by the umpire at one stage. But the evening ended in defeat, and the question now is: "What next?"
"People saying that I'm going to be the future of American tennis, that's what I've wanted to be since I was a little kid," said Bellis after her defeat. "I think that definitely makes me want to work really hard and try to become that."
Bellis is the youngest player to win a US Open match since Anna Kournikova in 1996, and the man who guided the Russian has been impressed by the American teenager. Bellis was playing in the main draw thanks to the United States Tennis Association's tradition of awarding a wild card to the US girls' and boys' champions.