Nike Athlete Simona Halep Suffers Surprise Loss at US Open

The shake-ups are already underway at the U.S. Open in New York.

No. 1-ranked athlete Simona Halep suffered a shocking loss today in the first round of the tournament, falling to Estonian player Kaia Kanepi in two sets (6-2, 6-4). Kanepi, who is ranked 44th in the world, made quick work of Halep, winning the first set in just 28 minutes.

Kaia Kanepi US Open 2018
Kaia Kanepi celebrates her win over Simona Halep at 2018 U.S. Open.
CREDIT: John G Mabanglo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Simona Halep US Open 2018
Simona Halep (L)  and Kaia Kanepi shake hands following 2018 U.S. Open match.
CREDIT: John G Mabanglo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Halep, who inked a sponsorship deal with Nike early this year, has seen some big highs and lows in the season. She won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in June, where she bested fellow Swoosh athlete Sloane Stephens. However, she was defeated in the finals of the Australian Open in January, and in July failed to advance past the round of 32 at Wimbledon.

No doubt Halep was hoping for a better showing at this U.S. Open tourney, which has been a bit of a jinx for her: In 2017, she also was ousted in first the round.

Simona Halep US Open 2018
Simona Halep reacts to defeat at 2018 U.S. Open.
CREDIT: John G Mabanglo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

But Halep’s departure from the leaderboard paves the way for other exciting contenders at Corona Park, including Stephens, who is looking to defend her 2017 title.

And of course there’s longtime Nike partner Serena Williams, who has been on the comeback trail this year after giving birth to daughter Olympia. Williams, who has faced some recent criticism for her on-court fashion choices, is slated to compete tonight in her first match of the tournament.

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