NEW YORK – Some players, like top-ranked Simona Halep, freely acknowledge they don’t deal well with the hustle-and-bustle of the U.S. Open and all it entails.
Others, like 44th-ranked Kaia Kanepi, take to the Big Apple and its Grand Slam tournament.
Put those two types at opposite ends of a court at Flushing Meadows and watch what can happen: Halep made a quick-as-can-be exit Monday, overwhelmed by the power-based game of Kanepi 6-2, 6-4 to become the first No. 1-seeded woman to lose her opening match at the U.S. Open in the half-century of the professional era.
“It’s always about the nerves,” said Halep, who was beaten in the first round in New York by five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in 2017. “Even when you are there in the top, you feel the same nerves. You are human.”
No. 2 seed Serena Williams posted a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Magda Linette.
Kurumi Nara bowed out in the first round, losing in three sets to Belgian Elise Mertens.
Nara lost 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5 against the world No. 15. The 99th-ranked Nara had won her opening match at the U.S. Open in each of the last five years.