Tennis – Halep outlasts Rybakina in three-set thriller at US Open

NEW YORK : Romania’s twice Grand Slam winner Simona Halep outlasted Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina 7-6(11) 4-6 6-3 in a dramatic third-round showdown at the U.S. Open on Friday.

Twelfth seed Halep saved four set points before converting on her seventh courtesy of a double fault by Rybakina in an epic, 18-minute first-set tiebreak in front of a rapt and roaring crowd inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Rybakina fired back and built a two-break lead through the first three games of the second set, taking a medical timeout after the fifth to have her left foot taped, while Halep received a shoulder massage with the lead narrowed to 3-2.

Rybakina broke again in the ninth game, helped by one of Halep’s three double faults in the second set, before closing it out in the next game with an ace, one of her 14 in the match.

After sitting on the sidelines between sets, a renewed Halep wrested the momentum in the third, cleaning up her form significantly with only six unforced errors compared to 30 in the previous two sets and winning 85per cent of her first-serve points.

“It’s been a very tough match,” said Halep after reaching the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2016. “I knew I had to be strong, I knew I had to be calm.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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