NEW YORK: While the second-round match between Simona Halep and qualifier Taylor Townsend had no shortage of surprises and thrills, the outcome was all too familiar for the Romanian fourth seed - heartbreak, once again, at the US Open.
Coming fresh off her second Grand Slam triumph at Wimbledon last month, Halep appeared to be a genuine threat in a crowded field of female talent at Flushing Meadows this year.
But the 27-year-old was sent packing by unheralded serve-and-volley specialist Townsend on Thursday (Aug 29) to leave her record at the tournament a miserable one win in three years.
Asked after the match how she was feeling about her early departure, Halep replied that she was "used to it".
"It's (the) third year," said Halep. "Well, 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 match (point). But, you know, sometimes (it) happens."
It has not always been that way for Halep in New York, where she was a semi-finalist in 2015 and reached the last eight the following year.
Her run of bad form started in 2017 when she drew former would number one Maria Sharapova, fresh off a 15-month doping ban, and was a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 loser in the first round.
Halep entered the 2018 edition of the tournament as the top seed, riding high after her maiden Grand Slam triumph at Roland Garros, only to crash out again at the first hurdle with a loss in straight sets to Estonia's Kaia Kanepi.
The world number four, who pulled out of the Rogers Cup last month with an Achilles issue, said she would take the defeat in her stride.
"I have just to look forwards," she said. "I'm Wimbledon champion, so I will not ruin that."