Simona Halep was down one set to unseeded Danielle Rose Collins during her opening day match in the women's singles competition of the 2014 US Open. She was fresh off a semifinals showing at Wimbledon and a finals appearance in the French Open, encouraging signs that placed her among the list to bag the final major tournament of the year.
Her forehand was showing otherwise. Venting her frustration at her shot, Halep intentionally smacked the last shot of the set and went to the ladies room during the changeover. She scolded herself during the interruption and came back roaring according to ESPN.
"I said 'Look, you have nothing to lose,'" Halep recounted her pep talk.
The talented Romanian tennis player held on to her composure and emerged renewed grabbing the final two sets, 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-2. Her struggles might be because the 22-year -old star was unfamiliar with the American wild card and she was still grasping to her opponent's tendencies in-game.
"It's really difficult, the first round of the tournament," Halep said. "Today was a big challenge for me because I played the first match of this tournament on center court. It's not easy to manage the situation."
Aside from Halep other top seeds in the women's division also struggled with their first round matches and were in danger of early elimination. Favourite Venus Williams had to endure three sets to surpass teenager Kimiko Date-Krumm, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 while No. 6 Angelique Kerber faltered in the second set but recovered to take the last one over Ksenia Pervak, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. No. 18 Andrea Petkovic struggled in the first two sets but eventually hurdled Ons Jabeur, 7-6 (7), 1-6, 6-3.
First round upsets are such a huge stigma to high seeded players as they are usually matched-up with relative unknowns. An early exit forfeits the player the chance for more exposure and possibly advertisement opportunities not to mention the thousand in dollars of prize money forfeited. Petkovic emphasized that winning a Grand Slam event is a big thing given that the whole world is watching the tournament.
"When I look around, no matter how high they are seeded or how good they are or how experienced they are, the first two days everybody is so nervous and no one wants to lose," Petkovic said.
This nervousness was especially true to Halep who was never ranked this high coming into the US Open She was ranked No. 21 in last year's tournament before bowing out in the round of 16 to Flavia Pennetta. The Romanian is now ranked 2nd in the world and that distinction might just be putting pressure on her to deliver the goods.
Halep relayed that the pressure is not easy since everyone is expecting her to win the title. She vows to take the tournament one match at a time and gather her composure like every match is tough.
"I believe in my chance, but still I want to take match by match," Halep said. "We'll see."