US Open: Wawrinka Back In Form, Simona Halep Loses

Stan Wawrinka - Sakshi Post

New York: Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka returned in fine style to the US Open tennis tournament for the first time since winning the 2016 title by defeating Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.

After undergoing two surgeries on his left knee, Wawrinka returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time since winning his third Grand Slam title and history repeated itself on Monday as he meted out a first round defeat for the second consecutive time to the current champion of the ATP finals in a Grand Slam tourney.

The Swiss player overcame Dimitrov in all aspects of the match, with proof of that to be found in the fact that he needed only two hours 24 minutes to move on to the second round, reports Efe news agency.

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Wawrinka, who is now 4-4 in his matchups with the Bulgarian, hit 30 winners, including six aces, and left Dimitrov in the dust with consecutive first round eliminations in Grand Slam tourneys for the first time in five years. At the beginning of this season, at Wimbledon, the 33-year-old Wawrinka had staged a comeback after losing the first set to eliminate Dimitrov 1-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4.

The former US Open champ has managed to reach the quarter-finals or better in each of his four earlier participations in the season's last Grand Slam event since 2013.

With three service breaks in the first two sets, Wawrinka quickly established control over the match, showing excellent form and building on his great outings in recent ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tourneys in Toronto and Cincinnati.

Dimitrov, 27, falls to 8-8 in his US Open matches, achieving his best results in 2014 and 2016 when he lost in the quarter-finals to Gael Monfils and Andy Murray, respectively.

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Wawrinka will now go up against France's Ugo Humbert, who defeated American Collin Altamirano 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 to earn a place in the third round. Top seed Halep loses in US Open first round (H2) Meanwhile, Top seed Simona Halep's US Open campaign was cut short in the first round after losing to Kaia Kanepi, who needed just two sets to score the first big upset of the season's last Grand Slam at 6-2, 6-4.

The Romanian on Monday became the first top seeded woman to lose in the US Open first round in the professional era, reports Xinhua news agency. Halep also lost in the first round at last year's US Open to 2006 champion Maria Sharapova, but she was not world No. 1 at that time. "It's always about the nerves," said Halep.

"Even when you are there in the top, you feel the same nerves. You are human. I'm a quiet person, so maybe I like the smaller places," she added. Halep, who had claimed her first Grand Slam title in Paris in June, came into the US Open 2018 flying high after a string of big results during the US Open series, lifting the title in Montreal and reaching the final in Cincinnati.

Kanepi, ranked 44th in the world, reached the quarterfinals here last year -- her best result at any Grand Slam -- but has struggled to find her form after suffering a series of injuries.

But it was the 33-year-old Estonian who was the fresher player on Monday, playing the first match of the day against Halep on the brand new Louis Armstrong Stadium. She fired 26 winners compared to just nine from Halep.

It was the first match at the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which now has about 14,000 seats and a retractable roof. However, Day 1 witnessed 33 degrees Celsius heat instead of rain.

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"The courts suit my game, and I love being in New York. I like the city. I like the weather: humid and hot," said Kanepi. "Yesterday I thought I have beaten just once the world number one, today I had another chance," said Kanepi, who had beaten then No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo in 2011.

"I thought, I just have to be aggressive and try to stay calm during the game," Kanepi said. Coming up next for Kanepi will be Swiss player Jil Teichmann, who made a successful main draw debut winning 6-3, 6-0 against Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia.

(IANS)

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