Maria Sharapova Returns With Electrifying Win Over Simona Halep

“I definitely have to value the feeling that I have now,” she said after the match. “I think that’s important. I can’t take that for granted. I can’t take the level for granted. I can’t take my emotions for granted. This is a big win for me, and I will enjoy it, then move on to the next one.”

She did not play like a 30 year old who had not played at Flushing Meadows in three years. She performed like vintage Sharapova: aggressive, agile, and fearless, earning a berth in the second round, where she will face Timea Babos of Hungary.

Halep had the poor fortune of being paired against a former No. 1 player in the first round — one who had gone 6-0 against her head-to-head and 18-0 over all in night matches at Ashe Stadium.

This, of course, was no ordinary wild card.

Still, Halep was supposed to be the more conditioned player, the one with better timing and rhythm. Sharapova had only played one match since May, and only 10 matches since the 2016 Australian Open, where she lost to Serena Williams, her nemesis, in a quarterfinal. Surely, the long layoff would be a factor.

Although Halep played valiantly amid difficult circumstances, Sharapova demonstrated her intent from

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