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US Open 2019: Former Champion Sloane Stephens Exits in 1st Round, Simona Halep Ends Win Drought

Sloane Stephens lost to Anna Kalinskaya in straight sets, whereas Simona Halep defeated Nicole Gibbs at US Open.

Agencies

Updated:August 28, 2019, 12:23 PM IST
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US Open 2019: Former Champion Sloane Stephens Exits in 1st Round, Simona Halep Ends Win Drought
Sloane Stephens and Simona Halep (Photo Credit: Reuters)
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New York: Former champion Sloane Stephens was stunned by Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the US Open on Tuesday after an inconsistent display during which she was unable to find any sort of rhythm.

The American 11th seed, who triumphed here in 2017, fought off two match points but on the third was caught out of position behind the baseline when the Russian ripped a backhand that clipped the net chord and landed in.

“I was playing one good point, one bad point, one good point. The inconsistency doesn’t help me at all,” said Stephens.

“She did a good job just staying there, keep fighting. She never really let me in. Kudos to her. She executed her game style really well.”

Kalinskaya, playing her first career Grand Slam night match and first inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, did not appear intimidated facing Stephens, whose US Open tune-up included a run to the last 16 in Cincinnati.

The 20-year-old Russian, who won three qualifying matches to make the main draw, broke Stephens at her first opportunity to pull ahead 5-3 in the first set and never looked back as she went on to secure the biggest win of her young career.

“It feels amazing to win the first match on this court, a subdued Kalinskaya said in her on-court interview. “I just tried to focus and don’t think too much about her and think just about my game.”

Kalinskaya was only broken once during the match and managed to convert three of her four break point chances.

Up next for Kalinskaya will be American wildcard Kristie Ahn, who stunned Cincinnati runner-up and 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova earlier on Tuesday.

HALEP BEATS NICOLE GIBBS

In a first, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep advanced to the second round of the US Open, beating Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 at the Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Fourth seed Halep had never made it to the second round at Flushing Meadows, having been bested by Russia's Maria Sharapova in 2017 and then losing to Kaia Kanepi of Estonia last year, reports Xinhua news agency.

Halep's opponent Gibbs was featuring in the tournament as another player had previously withdrawn. The 26-year-old American was diagnosed with a form of oral cancer earlier this year and underwent surgery in May to remove a tumor.

Halep was thrilled with her first victory at the US Open, and now has her eyes set on regaining the No. 1 spot, she had held till January.

"If I'm healthy, I will go for it 100 per cent," Halep said. "I want to finish as No. 1. I still have a chance, so I'm going to work for them. I'm confident I have actually a big chance. I will fight."

Halep now faces a second-round tie against US qualifier Taylor Townsend on Thursday.

(With inputs from Reuters and IANS)

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