Sharapova shines against Halep under the bright New York lights

It was tipped to be the match of the day and it certainly lived up to the expectation

The evening began with the ageless superstar, Shania Twain, who looked stunning in her black outfit, entertaining a packed Arthur Ashe stadium with a ten minute rendition of some of her greatest hits.

Then it was the turn of the No. 2 seed, the diminutive Simona Halep of Romania and the wildcard entrant and 2006 champion, Maria Sharapova to take centre stage.

Sharapova certainly dressed up for the occasion with her eye-catching black and sequined tennis dress and matching jacket, which sparkled under the bright New York lights.

In what was always going to be a battle of the dominant baseliners and wide servers, both players held their opening games in the first set. Sharapova got the first break with Halep making good soon after that, but it was Halep, who when serving to stay in the set, fell victim to a barrage of crosscourt forehand winners from Sharapova, who broke serve to take the set.

Sharapova continued her momentum and soon found herself 3-1 up in the second set, courtesy of a Halep backhand return into the net. Sharapova looked set to wrap the match up in two sets, but an array of unforced errors by the Russian, saw Halep claw her way back after saving a break point on 1-4 down, to even things at a set all.

Controversal bathroom break

At the end of the second set, Sharapova toddled off for a bathroom break, which lasted six minutes, leaving Halep, who cannot sit still, practising her serves.

Sharapova, whose every move is now bound to be scrutinised, found herself in the firing line as some thought it may be a deliberate tactic to unsettle the Romanian. 

Whether it was genuine or not, it certainly helped Sharapova who soon found herself 3-0 in the final set. Halep settled and managed to hold serve. Halep had a break point opportunity when Sharapova was serving for the match, but hit the ball into the net. That slip in concentration was all that the Russian needed as two points later, courtesy of a wide Halep return over the baseline, an emotional Sharapova went down on her knees to savour the 2 hours and 44 minutes, 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory.

It has been nineteen months since Sharapova played a Grand Slam match and twenty months since she last defeated a Top 10 player. To top that, Sharapova now holds an impressive 18-0 record on the Arthur Ashe Court at night.