After a terrific first seven months of the season, Halep's North American hardcourt swing in Cincinnati and New Haven was forgettable, as she went 2-2 in those tournaments. As for Collins, she was making her WTA main draw debut, and had earned a wildcard into the US Open by winning the NCAA title earlier this year.
The Turning Point
Collins hardly looked like a collegian in rallying from a 3-1 first set deficit to take the set in a tie-break, stunning Halep and the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.
Halep quickly turned the tides in the second set, winning five straight games from 1-1 to capture the set. It was more of the same in the third set, as Halep broke to go up 2-1 and stayed in front en route to a 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-2 win. But Collins battled to the very end, and showed she could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
By The Numbers
Halep won 80% of her first serve points compared to 63% for Collins. She also was superior at the net, winning 16 of 21 points there compared to five of 13 for Collins.
Halep broke Collins five times, and though Collins had five break point opportunities, she only converted on one. Finally, Halep had 24 winners, while Collins had 13.
So, though Halep's victory was in doubt for a while, a No.1 or No.2 seed still has never lost in the first round of the US Open during the Open Era.
"Today was a big challenge for me because I played the first match of the tournament on center court," Halep said. "It's not easy to manage that situation, and I started a little bit nervous, but I think after the first set did I very well. Also, she played really well. She was hitting the ball well and serving well. She will for sure have a good future."
"It was my childhood dream to play in a Grand Slam and to play in the US Open," Collins said. "I got that off my bucket list. I obviously had an incredible experience taking a set off the No.2 player in the world, which is a huge confidence boost. I think there are a lot of positive things to take from it. It can only go up from here for me. I don't think a lot of people were expecting me to take a set off of her. That's something I'll never forget."
"She's had a good year," Halep said. "I saw her make the final in Charleston. She's a good player, so it will be another tough match. I will prepare for the match and hopefully win it."