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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, August 29, 2022

 
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Daria Snigur shocked seventh-seeded Simona Halep 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 to score her maiden major victory and first Tour-level win of her career at the US Open.

Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty

NEW YORK—Some players wear their heart on their sleeve.

Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur showed heroic heart with the blue-and-yellow ribbon she wore to represent her war-torn homeland.

More: Carlos Alcaraz Q&A

Displaying disarming desire, Snigur shocked seventh-seeded Simona Halep 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 to score her maiden major victory and first Tour-level triumph of her career in the US Open first round.

When Halep's final backhand expired in net to end a one hour, 40-minute match on Louis Armstrong Stadium, Snigur made a heart gesture over her Ukrainian pin drawing roars of support from fans.



It is Halep's first Grand Slam opening-round exit since she fell to former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in three sets in the 2017 US Open first round.

The 30-year-old Romanian reached semifinals or better at four of her last six tournaments, including defeating Beatriz Haddad-Maia to collect her 24th career title in Toronto earlier this month. Though Halep arrived in New York on a roll, she ran into a road block in Snigur, who won three rounds of qualifying, including a victory over 2009 US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer.

Facing a Top 10 opponent for the first time, Snigur shrugged off a second-set bagel and later a couple of squandered match points when Halep served to hold for 4-5 in the final set.

The 124th-ranked Snigur won the Wimbledon girls' title in 2019—the same year Halep swept former world No. 1 Serna Williams to capture the Wimbledon crown.

Today, the 20-year-old Snigur looked calm and composed serving for the second round, but conceded it was a bit of a bluff.

"I'm very, very nervous, but I tried to do my best," Snigur told Blair Henley in her on-court interview afterward. "Of course this match is for Ukraine, for my family, for all the fans who supported me, I want to say thank you all."

Three games into the final set, Halep lost the grip on her Wilson Blade. Chasing a forehand flick, the stick went flying out of Halep's hand. Halep picked up her racquet and held to get on the board in the final set.

That was temporary reprieve. Snigur slashed flat forehands into the corners earning triple break point in the fifth game. Halep hammered a drive down the line to cap a 19-shot rally and draw closer at 30-40. Snigur jumped all over a mid-court ball, banged her approach down the line and broke again for 4-1.

The world No. 124 worked through a hard-fought hold extending her lead to 5-1 after one hour, 23 minutes of play.

Snigur served for her first Tour-level main-draw at 5-2, but could not close. Halep played consistent baseline combinations breaking back in the eighth game.

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The former world No. 1 stared down successive match points, but refused to blink. Halep saved the first on a Snigur error and capped a 14-shot rally drawing another error to deny a second match point. The two-time Grand Slam champion held firm for 4-5.

Serving for the match again, Snigur did not stumble. Lining up her forehand, Snigur slammed a pass crosscourt to earn a third match point. This time, Halep's fast feet could not save her. Halep laced a backhand into net as Snigur covered her face with her hands in joy.

Next up for Snigur is a second-round date with either Canadian Rebecca Marino or Poland's Magdalena Frech.

Halep is the first Top 10 seed to fall at the 2022 US Open.

Earlier, world No. 3 Maria Sakkari held off Tatjana Maria 6-4, 3-6, 6-0. 

The 15th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia needed only an hour to dish out a double bagel to Ana Konjuh.

The left-handed Haddad Maia will face 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu in round two. Andreescu was a 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 victor over French wild card Harmony Tan, who upset Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

"I watched her play the final at the Rogers Cup. She's playing really, really well," Andreescu said of Haddad Maia. "I know I played her but it was back in 2016, I think it was.

"It wasn't an easy match, and I'm sure Wednesday definitely won't be an easy match, as well. She's playing really well. But I'm also playing really well, so I think it's going to be a great matchup."


 

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