New York - Despite all Simona Halep's work preparing for the US Open, the second-ranked Romanian could not prevent her worst nightmare from coming true - a first-round loss to Maria Sharapova.
The 146th-ranked Russian wildcard improved to 7-0 lifetime against Halep with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 triumph on Monday on the New York hard-courts, marking Halep's 30th Grand Slam appearance without a title.
"I'm sad, of course, losing this match, but I think I give everything I had," Halep said. "She was better. She was serving better. My serve was very bad today."
Halep arrived at the US Open off a humbling 6-1, 6-0 loss to Garbine Muguruza at the Cincinnati final two weeks ago, her third loss in as many months with a chance to take the world number one ranking for the first time in her career.
She also stumbled on the verge of the top spot by losing the French Open final and a Wimbledon semi-final, both after taking the first set.
And then of all the people she could have faced in the US Open draw, Halep was handed a five-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one in her first Grand Slam match since a 15-month doping ban - a motivated foe with a total mastery over her.
"Was very tough. Was not like first-round match. But this is the draw. I cannot say anything else," Halep said.
"It's the luck. It was a tough one for first round, for sure. But still I think I played OK. She played really well. It was a good match. It was good for the fans."
Halep gave herself credit for battling back from 4-1 down in the second set to force a third.
"I just stayed there. I didn't think that I had lost the match. I just kept fighting," Halep said.
"I started to play a little bit more relaxed after that score. Then I got the confidence back. I didn't lose the confidence during the match because I felt I was very close, also in the first set."
What Halep said she didn't feel was any serve timing.
"Maybe because was night. I didn't practice night. But these are excuses. I just had to try something else, but I didn't.
"She was very strong today. She hit everything. Some balls were really good and I couldn't even touch them."
Halep said she never saw Sharapova's tears of joy after the match, her own sorrow too great to focus upon much else.
"I didn't see that moment because I was pretty sad that I lost the match," Halep said. "I think it's a big victory for her. She was staying away so many months. She's coming now. She played really well. So maybe that's why."
Halep connected on 67 percent of her first serves, but not enough of them were effective enough to frustrate Sharapova.
"The percentage maybe was good, but was too slow. She could attack the return very easy," Halep said. "So that's why I think I lost so many serve games. That's maybe why I lose the match. I'm pretty sure about that.
"I gave everything I had. Today she was stronger. I have just to go and work harder."
One thing Halep doesn't consider herself is unlucky, even with an opener against Sharapova.
"I'm very lucky person that I have this life, the chance to play in the top for so many years," Halep said. "I'm not thinking that I'm unlucky person. I'm very lucky."
And she has her plans sorted for the next couple weeks - "Racquets away, holiday, then work again."
Results from day 1 of the US Open on Monday (x denotes seeding):
Sam Querrey (USA x17) bt Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Dudi Sela (ISR) bt Christopher Eubanks (USA) 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
Radu Albot (MDA) bt Ernesto Escobedo (USA) 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS x25) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3
Mischa Zverev (GER x23) bt Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (USA) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
Benoît Paire (FRA) bt Lukáš Lacko (SVK) 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5)
Hyeon Chung (KOR) bt Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, 6-3
John Isner (USA x10) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Jordan Thompson (AUS) bt Jack Sock (USA x13) 6-2, 7-6 (14/12), 1-6, 5-7, 6-4
Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) bt John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4)
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) bt João Sousa (POR) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2
Gilles Muller (LUX x19) bt Bernard Tomic (AUS) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Kevin Anderson (RSA x28) bt JC Aragone (USA) 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 7-5
Borna Coric (CRO) bt Jirí Veselý (CZE) 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/2), 6-2
Alexsander Zverev (GER x4) bt Darian King (BAR) 7-6 (11/9), 7-5, 6-4
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x8) bt Marius Copil (ROM) 6-3, 6-3, 6-4
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) bt Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 7-5, 6-1, 6-2
Steve Johnson (USA) bt Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5)
Kyle Edmund (GBR) bt Robin Haase (NED x32) 6-3, 7-5, 6-3
Albert Ramos (ESP x20) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5, 6-7 (3/7), 7-5
Nicolas Mahut (FRA) bt Márton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/3)
Cameron Norrie (GBR) bt Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 7-6 (9/7), 6-1 - retired
Pablo Carreño-Busta (ESP x12) bt Evan King (USA) 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5)
Lucas Pouille (FRA x16) bt Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) bt Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 7-6 (7/3), 5-1 - retired
Jared Donaldson (USA) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-0, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6)
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) bt David Ferrer (ESP x21) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x29) bt Carlos Berlocq (ARG) 6-2, 6-1, 6-3
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) bt Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-7 (5/7), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3
Florian Mayer (GER) bt Rogério Dutra Silva (BRA) 7-5, 0-6, 6-3, 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO x5) bt Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x5) bt Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROM) 6-1, 7-5
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) bt Mona Barthel (GER) 6-2, 6-1
Carla Suárez (ESP) bt Ipek Soylu (TUR) 6-4, 6-2
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO x29) bt Mónica Puig (PUR) 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4)
Maria Sakkari (GRE) bt Kiki Bertens (NED x24) 6-3, 6-4
Arina Rodionova (AUS) bt Richel Hogenkamp (NED) 7-5, 7-5
Océane Dodin (FRA) bt Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (8/6)
Venus Williams (USA x9) bt Viktória Kužmová (SVK) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
Petra Kvitova (CZE x13) bt Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 7-5, 7-5
Alize Cornet (FRA) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4, 6-4
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) bt Anna Zaja (GER) 6-2, 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA x18) bt Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-0, 6-1
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK x31) bt Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-3, 6-4
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) bt Misa Eguchi (JPN) 6-2, 6-2
Duan Ying-Ying (CHN) bt Claire Liu (USA) 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/3)
Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP x3) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-0, 6-3
Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) bt Johanna Konta (GBR x7) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 7-5, 6-4
Zheng Saisai (CHN) bt Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
Julia Goerges (GER x30) bt Annika Beck (GER) 6-1, 6-0
Ashleigh Barty (AUS) bt Ana Konjuh (CRO x21) 4-6, 6-0, 6-1
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) bt Julia Boserup (USA) 6-2, 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) bt Roberta Vinci (ITA) 7-5, 6-1
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x11) bt Jana Cepelová (SVK) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x16) bt Carina Witthoeft (GER) 7-5, 6-1
Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) bt Irina Begu (ROM) 6-2, 7-6 (9/7)
Donna Vekic (CRO) bt Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) 6-2, 6-1
Peng Shuai (CHN x22) bt Amandine Hesse (FRA) 6-4, 6-1
Sofia Kenin (USA) bt Lauren Davis (USA x32) 7-5, 7-5
Sachia Vickery (USA) bt Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
Maria Sharapova (RUS) bt Simona Halep (ROM x2) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Tímea Babos (HUN) bt Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 7-5, 5-7, 7-5