American Taylor Townsend pulled off a thrilling victory over Simona Halep on Thursday at the US Open, defeating the No.4 seed in final-set tiebreak to reach the third round.
Townsend saved a match point in the 12th game to eventually score a 2-6 6-3 7-6(4) win, sending her through to the third round at a major tournament for the first time in more than five years. There she will meet Sorana Cirstea.
Halep was one of several big names in the women’s draw to exit on Thursday.
No.6 seed Petra Kvitova, who suffered an injury-affected run-up to the US Open, was bundled out in straight sets by Andrea Petkovic, while ninth-seed Aryna Sabalenka, who ousted Victoria Azarenka in a first-round thriller, lost to Yulia Putintseva.
Restoring some order was No.1 seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka, who ended Magda Linette’s nine-match winning streak with a 6-2 6-4 victory.
Also progressing to the third round were seeds Kiki Bertens (7), Anastasija Sevastova (12), Belinda Bencic (13), Bianca Andreescu (15) and Johanna Konta (16).
Relentlessly serving and volleying throughout the two-hour, four-minute encounter, Townsend served for the match at 5-4 in the third set and held two match points when up 40-15, yet Halep erased them both, the second with a backhand passing shot winner.
The Wimbledon champion looked destined to earn a hard-fought victory she fought off a pair of break points in the next game to nudge ahead 6-5, but Townsend steadied, and charged to the finish line.
“This means a lot. It’s been a long journey,” an emotional Townsend said on court.
“I had a match point against Bertens at Wimbledon. I’ve had some really close matches this year and just haven’t been able to get over the hump, so I mean this match means so much and it gives me so much confidence to know that I can do it.”
The world No.93 rushed the net an incredible 106 times, winning 64 of those trips to constantly put pressure on Halep.
“I knew that I’m not gonna beat her from the baseline. I had to do something that gave me an edge,” said Townsend, who had lost to Halep in straight sets in all three of their previous meetings.
“I think when I’ve played her before I was just trying to make balls. I think I played not to lose. And today I just played to win. I said, eff it (laughter). I don’t really think I can say what was going on in my head just because of TV (laughter).
“But I just told myself this is an opportunity, it’s a chance, and go for it. You have nothing to lose.”
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