American qualifier Taylor Townsend pulled off perhaps the biggest upset yet at the 2019 US Open on Thursday when she upended Wimbledon champion Simona Halep in their second-round match.
Townsend came from behind to win 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to eliminated the No. 4 seed and two-time Grand Slam champion.
Townsend Wins With Aggressive Net Play
The 23-year-old Townsend, who came into the US Open ranked 116th in the world, won by sticking to a very aggressive game plan. Coming to the net over 100 times in the match, she threw Halep off her game, as the Romanian regularly missed routine passing shots and seemed unwilling to try to play lobs over Townsend.
That’s not to say that Halep gave Townsend the match. The American served for the match and even had match points in the third set, before Halep showed her championship pedigree by forcing a tiebreaker. But in the end, Townsend was able to claim the biggest victory of her career.
“This match means so much and it gives me so much confidence to know that I can do it,” Townsend said in her on-court interview after the match. “I think when I’ve played her before, I was just trying to make balls. I think I played not to lose. And today I just played to win. I just said ‘F it.’”
Halep was one of three top-ten seeds to go down on the women’s side, with Petra Kvitova and Aryna Sabalenka also bowing out in the second round. In total, four women’s seeds and five men’s seeds were bounced on Thursday.
Osaka Wins, Nadal Receives Walkover
One player who was never in trouble was women’s No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka. While the defending US Open champion has struggled at times, that was not the case in her second-round match against Magda Linette, a straightforward affair that Osaka won 6-2, 6-4.
Osaka had some notable fans in her corner, with both Kobe Bryant and Colin Kaepernick sitting with her team to watch the match.
“It’s just funny to me,” Osaka said afterwards. “You know, like, last year compared to this year there is no way Kobe would sit in my box. Yeah, Kaepernick, too. It’s just crazy who you run into in life.”
The highest-profile men’s match of the day was unfortunately cancelled. Rafael Nadal advanced in a walkover after wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis withdraw from the tournament with a right shoulder injury. Kokkinakis has been trying to recover from injuries to his shoulder and pectoral muscles, with his first-round victory over Ilya Ivashka being his first Grand Slam victory in four years.
The other top men in action won their Thursday matches, including Daniil Medvedev, who overcame some third set cramping to beat Hugo Dellien 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3. Coco Gauff also continued her storybook 2019 run, beating Timea Babos 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to set up an intriguing matchup with Osaka.
Key Friday US Open Matchups (Odds Via FanDuel)
- No. 3 Roger Federer (-650) vs. Dan Evans (+470)
- No. 8 Serena Williams (-500) vs. Karolina Muchova (+380)
- No. 10 Madison Keys (-172) vs. No. 20 Sofia Kenin (+146)
- No. 1 Novak Djokovic (-2000) vs. Denis Kudla (+1260)
- No. 2 Ashleigh Barty (-320) vs. No. 30 Maria Sakkari (+260)
Friday will see the beginning of the third round, which means the first matchups between seeded players. The best matchup might be a battle between two American women: No. 10 seed Madison Keys and No. 20 seed Sofia Kenin, scheduled for the evening session on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Keys (-172) is favored over Kenin (+146) at FanDuel Sportsbook.