(August 29, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – No. 2 seed Simona Halep has crashed out of the US Open falling to qualifier and former teen tennis phenom, 32-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia, ranked 121 in the world 7-6 (6), 6-2.
The Croat was down a break in the first set and won 11 of the next 15 games to close out the match.
Halep had some success in the majors this year, losing the French Open final and reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon.
Halep double-faulted 7 times and hit 23 unforced errors, while Lucic-Baroni 31 winners.
The winner is back into the fourth round of a major for the first time since 1999 Wimbledon when she reached the semifinal as a teenager.
“It’s amazing,” Lucic-Baroni said. “I finally been able to play the tennis that I love the way I love to play. You know, being really aggressive and consistent at the same time. Yeah, I mean, I keep playing better and better each round. Today was against one of the best players in the world. She’s amazing. I expected a really tough match. I didn’t think about anything except following the tactics and playing the way I was supposed to play. I was able to do that; it’s incredible.”
“I’m a little bit emotional now,” she said in press and began to cry. “It’s been really hard. Sorry. After so many years to be here again, it’s incredible. I wanted this so bad. So many times I would get to, you know, a place where I could do it. Then I wanted it so bad that I’m kind of burned out. And I apologize again. Yeah, I’m so happy.
Halep was trying to make the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the second straight year.
“She played really well today,” Halep said. “After I had 5-2 and the two set points, she came back really well and she started to hit every ball. Everything was in for her. It wasn’t my best day, but still I did everything I could on court. She was better than me today, so I have to just to keep working every day hard and to look forward for the next one.”
“She was hitting the balls very strong,” Halep said of her challenger. She’s tall and she serves well. So I knew that she’s a good player. But still, like I said, I wasn’t in a good mood also. I didn’t play my best today. But she deserves to win.”
“I started pretty good the match,” the Romanian continued. ”I had 5-2 and two set balls. I started aggressive. I played well. But after that, after she came back really well. I couldn’t hit very long the balls. So was too short, my game. But it happened, and I have just to take like it was. Good mood I didn’t have because, you know, sometimes after you lose a set from 5-2 you lose a little bit of the confidence. But still I tried everything I could.”
“I feel goofy right now,” said the Croat. “I feel like I’m 15 now. I feel so excited. It’s crazy. I’m 32, but I don’t feel like that. My body is really great. That’s really important. I feel fit. I feel strong in my mind. I feel very excited, even after so many years on tour. That’s what I find really — exciting is not the word. Kind of surprising a little bit. I still have so much desire, so much to play. And what I meant today is when I said on the court I realized later what was I saying? I was saying I have such an amazing husband and such a happy life at home that I don’t need to do this, you know. I would be perfectly fine having a family. But people don’t realize how much I want this and how hard I worked for this. Yeah, it’s these moments in these last two weeks that are just — I mean, it’s what I work for. It’s just so fulfilling, so amazing.”
Lucic-Baroni will play Sara Errani next. The Italian knocked out Venus Williams 6-0. 0-6, 7-6(5).