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Maria Sharapova Beats Simona Halep On US Open First Round
September 21 2017, 07:42 | Sammy Rose
Sharapova makes her return to grand-slams next week after more than 18 months away from top-flight tennis Lachlan Cunningham Getty Images
Rarely do grand slams serve up such a mouth-watering treat in the opening round. The five-time Grand Slam champion is eagerly waiting to play her first match on the biggest stage of them all. She has been troubled by injuries following her return and is now ranked No 147 in the world, which meant she could not go directly into the main draw here without a wild card.
Simona Halep, the No. 2 ranked player, has the best chance of becoming No. 1, even if she were to lose in the first round.
When it was all said and done, Sharapova had 60 winners, 45 more than Halep finished the match with. Is not my position to talk about this.
She displayed that grit on Monday night and came out firing, going for her shots early which resulted in 28 winners to 25 unforced errors in the opening set.
Venus Williams is the only American player with a major singles title to her name in the men's or women's fields and will open her tournament on Day 1 in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, a 19-year-old making her Grand Slam main-draw debut.
Halep would find her footing and win the final five games to force a decider, but the night belonged to Sharapova.
It was always going to be a tough assignment for Sharapova, who wasn't granted a wildcard to the French Open and missed Wimbledon - and several other tournaments - because of injury.
'I'm sad, of course, losing this match, ' said the second seed. Could she do it this time around?
Stay tuned to see how the former world No. 1 fares throughout the rest of the 2017 US Open. "You have to work for it, you know, a little bit to go and play your tournaments and not (get) help that much sometimes", Garbine Muguruza, who won the Wimbledon title this year, said.
There was an audible gasp from onlookers at the draw ceremony on Friday when the match-up was revealed on the big screens in New York's Seaport District.
Sharapova's road won't get any easier, but after an emotional win such as this one, she'll be able to take a well-earned rest before she heads into the second round. "I feel stronger mentally and in my game". I haven't been on court much in the last few weeks, not as much as anyone that's in the draw this week.
So many familiar faces and key players are missing from the field. When Williams was playing her best, the tennis world knew she was the best.
World number one Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic opens against Poland's Magda Linette. That was Sharapova's sixth return victor and she would finish with 14, more than enough to counter her seven double-faults.
"When the draw came out, I knew what a hard matchup this would be, how much excitement was behind this matchup and the hype", Sharapova said. "Maybe the pressure came in important moments, so now it's gone".