Simona Halep angers and stuns US Open tennis fans as John Millman absorbs major career blow

Unheralded Ukrainian Daria Snigur has made her Grand Slam arc in the first round of the US Open in New York, facing a former world No. 1, two-time Major champion in Simona Halep.

Halep had won 19 of her last 22 matches and had recently returned to the top 10, but the 20-year-old Ukrainian was unconcerned and won the first set 6-2.

Halep seemed to restore natural order as she drove 6-0 through the second stanza in 24 minutes.

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But Snigur rallied to take the final set and the match 6-4 on her third match point.

Snigur, who wore a pin in the colors of the Ukrainian flag on her chest and wrapped her hands around it after the final point, struggled through tears to explain what victory meant for her family and country during the war with Russia.

Former Wimbledon junior champion Snigur attended the Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition at Louis Armstrong Stadium last week to raise money for Ukraine. She said that might have helped her nerves when she returned to the same court on Monday.

The entry into the Wimbledon semifinals of the 35-year-old German mother of two Tatjana Maria was one of the stories of the tennis summer.

Among her victims was the fifth seed, Maria Sakkari.

In New York, the Marias faced off again and opened the women’s singles.

Ukraine’s Daria Snigur shocked two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep at the US Open. (AP PHOTO) Recognition: AP

This time around, Sakkari, who is now world No. 3 and the third seed, justified her superior reckoning by surviving a wobble in the second set to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.

Sakkari, who reached the semi-finals in Flushing Meadows in 2021, next meets Diane Parry or Xiy Wang.

Another surprising headliner at Wimbledon was Harmony Tan, who knocked out Serena Williams in the multiple champion’s last visit to SW19.

Tan reached the fourth round in London, but she won’t make headlines in New York.

The French, who received a wildcard entry, was beaten 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 in the opening round by 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

The Canadian now meets No. 15 seeded Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, who beat Croatia’s Ana Konjuh 6-0, 6-0.

Simona Halep of Romania takes on Daria Snigur of Ukraine in the first round of women’s singles on day one of the 2022 US Open. Recognition: Julian Finney/Getty Images

America’s Coco Gauff won her first game after three losses at Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-2, 6-3 win over France’s Leolia Jeanjean.

Also in the second round was 17th seed Caroline Garcia, who defeated Kamilla Rakhimova 6-2, 6-4 and now meets a second lucky loser in Anna Kalinskaya, who upset Rebecca Peterson 6-4, 6-3.

29th-seeded American Alison Riske beat compatriot Eleana Yu 6-2, 6-4 and now meets Colombia’s Camila Osorio, who lost just four games after losing the first set 6-1 to Ann Li.

Elsewhere, Veronika Kudermetova defeated Donna Vekic 7-5, 6-3.

Millman is fighting for his future after losing the US Open

Meanwhile, John Millman promises to fight for his Grand Slam future after suffering a five-set loss in the first round of the US Open in New York.

Millman lost to talented American wildcard Emilio Nava 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 6-1 in a nearly four-hour grind in the sweltering heat on day one of the Open.

Coming back this month after an untimely bout of COVID-19 that crippled his Open lead, Millman failed to go the full distance against a 20-year-old two-time Grand Slam junior finalist.

“I’ve been playing catch-up (getting the coronavirus) ever since, trying to find my feet – and he lit it up in that fifth set,” said Millman, who also lamented not being able to convert set points in both sets first and third sentence on Monday.

John Millman of Australia plays a forehand against Emilio Nava of the United States during the first round match in men’s singles on day one of the 2022 US Open. Recognition: Mike Stöbe/Getty Images

Flushing Meadows remains the scene of Millman’s crowning achievement in tennis.

The Brisbane baseliner’s stunning fourth-round win over Roger Federer in 2018 propelled Millman into his only Grand Slam quarterfinal.

But at age 33, ranked 103rd in the rankings and after a career struggling with crippling shoulder and back injuries, he faces a battle that will make it back onto the sport’s biggest stages.

While Millman plans to carry on for a little longer, the popular Queenslander needs to maintain his place in the world top 100 in order to compete directly in next year’s Grand Slams.

“Look, I live to fight another day. I lost today but I will recover now and will play some challenger events in France next week,” he said.

Millman will almost certainly be handed a wildcard into the Australian Open if he doesn’t automatically qualify.

“I love this tournament. See if the ranking is (at the end of the year),” he said.

“I have every opportunity for myself and that’s probably why I’m going to France to play Challengers.”

– With Darren Walton, AAP

Boxer lands a KO punch seconds after launch.

Boxer lands a KO punch seconds after launch. Simona Halep angers and stuns US Open tennis fans as John Millman absorbs major career blow

James Brien

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