Simona Halep became the first women’s top seed to exit the first round of the US Open in the Open era, after suffering a shock defeat to Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi.
World No 44 Kanepi came through in stunning fashion on the newly-rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium 6-2 6-4 in 76 minutes.
Halep made another slow start at a Grand Slam tournament by losing the first set in 28 minutes, before going down a double-break in the second. But despite a mini-revival from the Romanian, Kanepi broke Halep for the fifth time,
before confidently serving out one of the wins of her life.
The French Open champion arrived at Flushing Meadows as one of the favourites and declared herself free of pressure after breaking her Grand Slam duck at Roland Garros.
But it did not appear that way against Kanepi, one of the biggest hitters in the game, who blasted her way with some bruising groundstrokes to a famous victory.
The good news for Halep is she is guaranteed to hold onto the world No 1 ranking having established a solid lead over her rivals.