Simona Halep. Picture: REUTERS/EDGAR SU
Simona Halep. Picture: REUTERS/EDGAR SU

World No1 Simona Halep was swept aside 6-2 6-4 by 44th-ranked Kaia Kanepi on Monday, the first top-seeded woman ever to lose in the US Open first round.

It was a second straight first-round exit at Flushing Meadows for Romania’s Halep, who dropped her opening match to Maria Sharapova in 2017.

The French Open champion had no answer for Kanepi’s powerful groundstrokes. The Estonian fired 26 winners to Halep’s nine, and even her 28 unforced errors were not enough to derail her challenge as she brought the rallies to quick ends and remorselessly punished Halep’s second serve.

"Yesterday I thought I have beaten just once the world number one, today I had another chance," said a beaming Kanepi, who defeated then No1 Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo in 2011.

Kanepi, whose six Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances include a run to the last eight in New York in 2017, earned a second-round meeting with Swiss qualifier Jil Teichmann.

SA qualifier Lloyd Harris was beaten in his first-round match by Gilles Simon 6-2 6-2 6-3.

It was the biggest match of Harris’s career, and although the 21-year-old was beaten, the experience gained will be invaluable.