It was the most hyped first-round showdown in years, played under the lights on Opening Night, the No. 2 seed versus the 2006 champion. And it delivered. Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova traded blows from the baseline for 2 hours and 44 minutes, games descending into multiple deuces, the first set lasting an even hour.
After claiming that first frame, 6-4, Sharapova raced out to a 4-1 lead in the second and seemed to have the encounter well in hand. But Halep, always a dogged competitor, found her footing as Sharapova lost her range, with the Romanian storming back to capture five consecutive games and, with them, the second set.
Momentum flipped once more in the third, with Sharapova thwarting Halep’s surge to again race out to a 4-1 lead. Only this time, she would not relent, falling to her knees when Halep’s final backhand flew long and struggling to contain her emotions in her chair afterward and again during her post-match interview.
With the 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win, Sharapova improved to 18-0 in night matches in Arthur Ashe Stadium – a mark she would stretch to 19-0 with a third-round win over Sofia Kenin. But the Russian’s run came to an end in the fourth round, where she fell to No. 16 seed Anastasija Sevastova, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, denying Sharapova a trip to the US Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.