US Open: Defending Wimbledon champion Simona Halep stunned by Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend shakes hands with Simona Halep of Romania after the American won their second-round match. (Photo: Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports)

By Wayne Coffey, Special for USA TODAY Sports

Taylor Townsend, a 116th-ranked qualifier from Atlanta, scored the biggest victory of her career Thursday, knocking Wimbledon champion and No. 4 seed Simona Halep out of the US Open with a stunning triumph in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

A big-bodied serve-and-volleyer, Townsend, 23, achieved her 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) triumph by shortening the points and carving up the court with angled volleys.

Townsend, who had never won a set against Halep in three previous meetings, moves into the third round of the Open for only the second time in her career.

“It’s been a long journey. This gives me so much confidence to know that I can do it,” Townsend said.

The match pivoted on two games in the third set, Townsend breaking Halep, a 27-year-old Romanian, at love to go up 3-2, delivering a deft forehand approach winner on the final point. Halep went out to a 0-40 lead the very next game, but Townsend wound up holding on a scorching overhead winner for 4-2.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Townsend had double-match point at 40-15, before double-faulting and watching Halep whistle a backhand pass down the line for deuce. Halep went on to break back and level the set at 5-5, powered by a winner off a backhand pass.

Halep fought off a break point and held for 6-5, as a reeling Townsend read notes from a black journal on the changeover. She had lost three straight games and her game was unraveling – she hit an overhead into the bottom of the net in the 12th game. Halep had her own match point at 30-40, only to net a return, and Townsend managed to hold to force a match-deciding tiebreak.

At 4-4 of the tiebreaker, Halep overcooked a forehand to give Townsend a 5-4 advantage, and Townsend earned her third match point when Halep’s crosscourt backhand approach drifted wide. One point later, Townsend made her 106th and final charge forward, smoking a forehand volley that Halep grounded into the net, making her the highest-seeded player to get dispatched from the tournament.

“Today, I just played to win,” a tearful Townsend said in an on-court interview. “I just told myself this is an opportunity, go for it. I knew I wasn’t going to beat her from the baseline.”

This article originally appeared in USA Today.

Looking to Advertise? Contact the Crusader for more information.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here