WTA Insider checks in after a wild 72 hours at the US Open.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
August 30, 2018

NEW YORK, New York - The first three days of the 2018 US Open has seen the No.1 seed bow out, searing temperatures, and a whole lot of discussion about clothing. But in the face of adversity, the players have found solace and support in each other. 

You're not alone, Simona. 

World No.1 Simona Halep became the first top seed in the Open Era to lose in the first round of the US Open, losing in straight sets to the always dangerous Kaia Kanepi. Afterwards, Halep owned up to the fact that she has never felt entirely comfortable in New York. 

"Maybe the noise in the crowd, the city is busy," Halep said. "So everything together. I'm a quiet person, so maybe I like the smaller places.

"But I did great results here. I'm not complaining. I just say that I don't really feel 100% my game when I step on the court here. But maybe in the future it's gonna change something, I will change something and it will be better."

Halep isn't the only top player to struggle with the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.

"I really feel her when she says that, because me, at the beginning, for the first four years, I didn't go through almost the first round," said Garbiñe Muguruza, who lost in the second round to Czech qualifier Karolina Muchova early Thursday morning. "I was always there, and I didn't really understand what was happening.

"I think it's part of it, like she feels, maybe it's a little too, I don't know, the city, the people, or the tournament. There is a little different than other tournaments, but I'm learning to handle that better because I really want to go far in the tournament.

"Yeah, I understand that. Some people don't like it. And I feel like people love it or people don't like it. You know, it's black or white a little bit."

"I try not to spend a lot of time outside. There is a lot of people, there is a lot of noise. I always try to be in calm places. I'm happy to go to the park, but I don't do a lot of shopping. I don't walk around the city. I feel like if I don't walk, people are going to walk over me. It's like, Man, seriously.

Yeah, I do spend a lot of time in the hotel, in this tournament in particular. But that's my way."

To the surprise of many, the US Open has become Petra Kvitova's best Slam since winning Wimbledon in 2014, having made two quarterfinals here since. While she can't do much about the heat and humidity, Kvitova has made adjustments to find a little peace and quiet in Manhattan to recharge.

"The last couple of years we are in the hotel which is just next to Central Park," Kvitova said. "That's probably feeling a bit different, not like Manhattan, but you do have a quiet place next to hotel, so it doesn't feel that crowded for me over there."

Perhaps the secret to New York success is to embrace the chaos as opposed to managing it. 2006 champion Maria Sharapova said she didn't take to the city either earlier in her career. 

"I actually didn't grow up enjoying playing or actually being in New York City," Sharapova said. "It was very intimidating as a teenager. 

"I've really embraced it I believe in the last decade or so. Ever since my victory, I've loved using it. I've learned how to use the energies. No matter if you're up or down that the crowd possesses, is able to lift you up or falls hard for the underdog. You feel like there are so many flows within a match from the crowd.

"There's a little bit more noise than maybe some of the other stadiums that I've played at. But I don't know, it's kind of part of the US Open. You can't really shy away from noise if you want to be a champion in New York City, right? I think you have to embrace it. There's always an amazing amount of energy no matter what court you play on in New York in the evening."

Alizé Cornet's code heard 'round the world. 

If you missed the drama, catch up on it here and here The short version: During her first round match, Cornet accidentally put her shirt on backwards after a set-break due to the extreme heat rule, and quickly took it off and put it back on while she was at the baseline. She was issued a code violation, which the USTA has since apologized for. The USTA also issued a new policy allowing players to change their shirts at their chairs. 

Cornet said she received loads of support in the locker room after the match, and the players made their support public as well.

"I believe that should never happen," Victoria Azarenka said. "If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out, because I think it was ridiculous. It was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong. It wasn't anything disrespectful. She literally changed her shirt because it was backwards. So I couldn't believe this was a conversation. I'm glad they apologized, and I hope this never happens again."

Given all the conversation about the sartorial regulations at the Slams lately, Azarenka, who sits on the WTA Player Council, said she hoped the players would rally together to make their voices heard. 

"There is always a double standard for men and women," Azarenka said. "But we need to push those barriers. And as players, as representatives of the WTA Tour, I believe we're gonna do the best we can to make sure that we are the most progressive sport and continue to break those boundaries, because it's unacceptable. For me, it's unacceptable.

"It should not be a conversation. Why? Why there's conversation? What's the disrespect? I don't get it."

Timea Bacsinszky had her own issues with the off-court change rule in her first round match on Tuesday. The Swiss lost in three sets to Aleksandra Krunic, and said a stressful trip to the restroom to change certainly didn't help her mid-match frame of mind.

"If we ask for equal prize money, we should be asked to be treated the same way as well," Bacsinszky told WTA Insider. "I mean, guys can sit [shirtless] and it can be provactive for someone as well, as we can be if we take our dress off. I don't always have to take off my bra or shorts. I would just like to change my shirt because it's so humid. Let me do that on court. It saves me 10 minutes or more. Yesterday it took almost 15 minutes."

"Yesterday the escort escorted me to Grandstand to a public bathroom. I'm in the middle of the people, they were asking me for autographs. I had to say 'I'm sorry, I'm in the middle of the match.'

"I had to go to change. It's not like I wanted a break. I just wanted to change my dress. 

"We're playing one of the biggest events. I just need a room to change. I don't need a cocktail. You don't have to provide me fresh towels. I just need a room to change. If you don't let me change on court, provide me a room for that." 

"This is not normal for a Grand Slam. This is a big fight that I feel."

"When I came in this morning in the locker room, like, many players came to me," Cornet said. "Even former players, like Tracy Austin, I was very honored to be actually approached by her like that.

"And they were just giving me all their support. I mean, everybody was pretty scared that I could get a fine for it. I was also scared. I was, like, Oh, I had a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct. So it seemed really strong to me. I was really scared to get a fine for it.

"So all the players were supporting me for that, and were telling me that if I get fined, we would all be together and see the WTA, you know, and make a revolution and stuff. I was, like, Calm down. I'm going to get the information first and then we see if we make a revolution or not.

"It was nice to have the girls' support or not. It feels like when something's happening, we're kind of a family, and everybody is regrouping. It feels nice."

Serena vs. Venus XXX has everyone popping popcorn.

Serena Williams and Venus Williams will meet for the 30th time in their careers on Friday, over 20 years since their first meeting at a Slam. Their third round clash will be their earliest meeting at a Slam since their first, which took place in the second round of the Australian Open in 1998. This will be their second meeting of the season, with Venus prevailing in Serena's first tournament of her comeback in Indian Wells, and their first at a Slam since the 2017 Australian Open final, which Serena won. 

So clear your Friday night schedules, tennis fans. This will be a must-watch.

"Definitely I'm going to watch this match," said Elina Svitolina. "It's always, a big clash of two legends. I have lots of respect for both of them. And when they are playing against each other, it's always very entertaining, very passionate, because they are both bringing their best."

"I always, always try to watch those kinds of matches, because it gives you this extra motivation to work harder and to reach your goals, to put the work every day. Because they really, what they do in their career and they come back, you know, Serena, after having a child, and Venus, playing for so many years in such a high level, it's very rare that you can see that in sports. That's why I'm very lucky to play in the same time as they are."

Azarenka had, perhaps, the best summation of the sisters' rivalry:

"That's going to be exciting for the fans. I'm sure they will hate it, both of them hate this, but I think it's going to be beautiful for tennis."

Stats to Know:

- With 19 of the Top 20 seeds advancing to the second round, it is the most at the US Open since 2004 when 19 of the Top 20 also advanced.

- For the first time in the nation’s history, Belarus had four players into the second round of a Slam: Victoria Azarenka, Vera Lapko, Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

- With Angelique Kerber (No.4 seed) and Julia Goerges (No.9 seed) both seeded in the Top 10, this is the first Slam with two Germans among the Top 10 seeds since 1997 Roland Garros (Graf, A.Huber).

- Caroline Garcia is the first Frenchwoman to be a Top 10 seed at the US Open since No.8 Marion Bartoli in 2011. She is also the first Frenchwoman to be a Top 10 seed across all four Slams in the same season since 2006 (Amelie Mauresmo).

- At 39 years, 269 days older, Patty Schnyder became the oldest player to reach the main draw at a Slam via qualifying in the Open Era. She was the oldest player to compete at the US Open since Kimiko Date in 2014 (43 yrs, 344 days). Only two players have competed in the US Open main draw at an older age – Renee Richards and Kimiko Date. Schnyder lost to Sharapova in the first round.

"She still has incredible hands, moves incredibly well for being out of the game for so long, still very competitive," Sharapova said. "I was just saying it took me, like, 15 years to dropshot Patty Schnyder and win a point. Doesn't happen that often against Patty."