NEW YORK—When you think of Simona Halep, what shot comes to mind? Probably not her serve. But her delivery jumped off the screen—and was apparent in person—in her difficult first-round content against Camila Giorgi.
Giorgi finished just outside the US Open seeding cutoff after a stunning Montreal run that included straight-set wins over Petra Kvitova, Coco Gauff and Karolina Pliskova. Halep, meanwhile, missed Roland Garros and Wimbledon with a leg injury, and recently withdrew from Cincinnati.
After winning the first set 6-4, Halep broke Giorgi at 2-2 and consolidated with ease. Another routine hold followed, even after Halep donated a point to Giorgi with two lets and two faults. But the four service misses didn't faze her a bit.
But would Simona's serve hold up under pressure? Not exactly. At 5-4 and 6-5, Halep's serve finally cracked, with Giorgi's returns escalating in intensity. The Canada champion had returned, so to speak, just in time. Two long games—and two match points—came and went, and Halep was forced to a second-set tiebreaker. Frustration ensued.
But emotion is part of Halep's winning formula—and despite some late turbulence, she found her way past Giorgi. The Italian may have let Halep off the hook with an overcooked swinging forehand volley while leading 2-1, but from there, Halep won five of the last six points, including one ace.