Simona Halep said she was “not inspired at all” in Thursday’s US Open loss to 116th-ranked American qualifier Taylor Townsend as her miserable run in New York continued.
The reigning Wimbledon champion saved a pair of match points but then failed to convert one in the final set of a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) defeat.
“I was not inspired at all today, but I fought. I thought when I came back that I will take it and I will win it. But sometimes it goes the other way,” Halep said, digesting another early Flushing Meadows exit following first-round losses in 2017 and 2018.
“I’m used to it. It’s the third year. I’m disappointed. I had expectations from myself that I’m confident and I feel the game. But today was different. I was very close. I had a match ball. But, you know, sometimes it happens.
“She played really well. She really deserved to win it because she gave everything and she didn’t think of losing. She went all the way with a 100 per cent belief.”
Fourth seed Halep, whose best US Open run came when she reached the semi-finals in 2015, admitted she struggled to cope with Townsend’s committed serve-and-volley approach.
“Never, never. I never played with someone coming so often to the net,” Halep said.
“She was way more inspired than me. Many balls I hit on the sides, she was there. That’s why I say I was not inspired. I played all the time where she was.”
Halep had not dropped a set in three previous meetings with Townsend, whose victory over the Romanian represented her first over a top-10 player.
The most recent of those clashes came last March in Miami, where Halep imparted some friendly advice to Townsend after she inflicted a 6-1, 6-3 defeat on her.
“After we played together, she came into the locker room and she asked me what she has to improve to be better. So she did it today,” Halep said, with a wry smile. “Next time I will not say anything.
“I played few times against her, and I knew how she’s playing,” she added.
“But today she changed. She went for all the balls to the net. So it was a little bit different. At one point I lost the rhythm in the second set, and I didn’t really know what I have to change. Even the touch, I didn’t have it.
“But always when you play with a top player, you have nothing to lose.”