(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – No. 2 seed Simona Halep did the honors in opening play on Arthur Ashe stadium on the first day of the US Open on Monday.
The Romanian, a French Open finalist this year, who last year at this time was ranked 21st in the world, had to get over some opening set jitters and a unfamiliar opponent to beat wild card and NCAA champion Danielle Rose Collins 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-2.
“I didn’t know how she looks because I never saw her on the tour,” Halep admitted. “She’s a great player. Of course she has good motivation. I saw her second ball. She was screaming, Come on. So it’s a good thing for her.
“A big challenge for me because I played the first match of this tournament on center court,” Halep said. “It’s not easy to manage the situation, but I think after first set did I very well. I played better than first set. I started a little bit nervous, but it’s normal. And she played really well, as well. She was hitting the balls really good. She was serving good. She will have, for sure, a good future.”
Collins came into the match up to the challenge with no fear.
“I think a lot of times people get a little bit intimidated if they focus too much on who they’re playing against, especially if you’re looking at it, like, oh, you’re playing Simona Halep or you’re playing the No. 2 girl in the world,” said the American. “I kind of threw all of that out the door and took the pressure off myself and just really focused on the things I could do and the things that I could control.”
Collins earned her wild card into the US Open by winning the NCAA championship in May, representing Virginia, the first Cavalier to pull off the feat. She spoke about her experience earning the title as an unseeded player. “I think it was mainly surprising just because of a lot of the injuries that I was dealing with throughout the year. But, you know, I work with two really great coaches and they have always had a lot of confidence and faith in me. You know, I feel like when you surround yourself with good people, it makes everything a lot more easier. So I was always really confident and believed in myself leading up to the end of the tournament, and so I went in there with the attitude, you know, I can do this and I can, you know, play with these girls and beat these girls. That was like the main thing that helped me and led me to winning.”
Next stop for Collins is back to school at Virginia to begin her junior year.
“We’ll probably try to look into flights and stuff tonight or tomorrow unfortunately,” she said. “So it’s going to be a quick turnaround, and then first day of classes is tomorrow. I’ll be in class this time tomorrow.”
“I love UVA, but school’s tough,” said the 20-year-old. “School is very tough. So back to work for me.”
“Play some more pro tournaments. Maybe play a couple pro tournaments during the fall season. Fortunately we are allowed to do that, so that will be more experience I can get under my belt for the future.”
Collins says she’ll treasure the experience of playing in her first major, and her first main draw match to boot. “It’s obviously an incredible experience, she said. “It was my childhood dream to play in a Grand Slam and to play in the US Open. I got that off the bucket list. I obviously had a really good experience taking a set off the No. 2 ranked girl in the world. I think there is a lot of positive things to take from it. It can only go up from here for me. Obviously a big confidence booster. You know, I don’t think a lot of people were expecting me to take a set off of her, so overall, an incredible experience. I mean, that’s something I’ll never forget.”
“Summer was too much fun,” Collins said. “I’ll be in class this time tomorrow.”