Unseeded & Unfazed: Taylor Townsend stuns Halep at upset-heavy US Open

Unseeded & Unfazed: Taylor Townsend stuns Halep at upset-heavy US Open

The 23-year-old American saved a match point before knocking out the reigning Wimbledon champion in a final-set tiebreaker on Thursday.

Unseeded players continued to make noise at the US Open on Thursday, with confident performances around the grounds.

Taylor Townsend d. [4] Simona Halep

It’s been a long time coming for the 23-year-old American. With a classic style—built on a willingness to rush the net and anchored by a tremendous overhead—the left-hander compiled the best performance of her career. After squandering two match points in the third set when serving at 5-4, Townsend was forced to save a match point of her own at 5-6. She held firm, then stunned the Wimbledon champion, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4)—after charging forward to net 105 times.

“This means a lot. It’s been a long journey,” Townsend said on-court as she fought back tears. “I was playing not to lose. Today I was playing to win. I said, 'F' it.”

For the Chicago native, it marked her first Top 10 win in 11 tries, and now presents an amazing opportunity for a deep major run.

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Andrea Petkovic d. [6] Petra Kvitova

A former French Open semifinalist, Petkovic has seen her ranking dip to No. 88. Meanwhile, Kvitova came to Flushing Meadows with a left forearm issue that has prevented her from playing multiple events since the end of May. The German erased a break deficit in the second set before ousting the two-time Wimbledon champion, 6-4, 6-4. As a result, Petkovic secured consecutive main-draw wins for just the second time this season, having also advanced to the third round of Roland Garros.

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Yulia Putintseva d. [9] Aryna Sabalenka

During the grass-court season, Putintseva defeated Naomi Osaka twice, including in the opening round of Wimbledon. With Sabalenka’s inconsistent run of form this year, it’s not a huge surprise to see the fearless Kazakh prevail, 6-3, 7-6(3), over the Belarusian, who finished with 11 double faults. As a result, the world No. 39 is guaranteed her best finish at the New York major. She'll face 23rd seed Donna Vekic in the third round.

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Dan Evans d. [25] Lucas Pouille

Evans ended the 2018 season ranked No. 199 after returning from a 12-month ban for a positive cocaine test. The Brit has put in the work to rebuild his standing, and for the second successive Slam, he took out a seed to reach the third round. He broke Pouille eight times in his 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4 victory. Evans will get a rematch with five-time US Open champion Roger Federer next; Federer won their second-round encounter in Melbourne this year.

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Denis Kudla d. [27] Dusan Lajovic

Having fallen outside of the Top 100, Kudla came to New York with extra incentive to add rankings points to his name. The American moved through to the third round of a major for just the second time in 22 main-draw appearances after eliminating Lajovic, 7-5, 7-5, 0-6, 6-3. Kudla will stand across the net from a much more prolific Serbian in his next match: a Saturday date with world No. 1 and reigning champion Novak Djokovic.

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Karolina Muchova d. [29] Hsieh Su-wei

Fresh off her run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, Muchova has maintained her major momentum. In a final-set tiebreaker, Muchova stepped up to edge the crafty Hsieh, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (2), in two hours and six minutes. The 23-year-old smacked 45 winners, including 11 aces, to 38 winners, to set up a third-round showdown with 23-time major titlist Serena Williams. The two will meet for the first time.

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Wake up every morning with Tennis Channel Live at the US Open, starting at 8 a.m. ET. For three hours leading up to the start of play, Tennis Channel's team will break down upcoming matches, review tournament storylines and focus on everything Flushing Meadows.

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