British No 1 Johanna Konta has been knocked out of the US Open 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in the second round by the world No 77 Sorana Cirstea.
It is a second early exit in a Grand Slam in 2020 for 29-year-old Johanna Konta, who lost in the first round of the Australian Open in January.
“My opponent played better than me, that’s really about it,” said British No 1 Johanna Konta.
“She obviously raised her level and then we were battling toe-to-toe. She was better in the end.”
“I did the best that I could. I really fought hard.”
Sorana Cirstea, 30, will next play Czech 20th seed Karolina Muchova.
British Johanna Konta, a quarter-finalist in 2019 at Flushing Meadows, had won their two previous meetings, including a controversial Fed Cup rubber in 2017 when Romania captain Ilie Nastase was sent off after swearing at the umpire and abusing Konta and Great Britain captain Anne Keothavong.
Konta was visibly upset and the umpire halted the match for 25 minutes, with Cirstea later claiming the Briton had “overreacted”.
There was no hint of controversy about their meeting in New York with Konta seemingly set for a routine win as she broke Cirstea’s serve three times in the first set and then again to lead 2-1 in the second set.
However, Cirstea broke back immediately and upped her level to turn the match around.
Konta had break points at 4-4 and 5-5 in the second set but could not convert and was taken to a tie-break.
Sorana Cirstea dominated it and although Konta saved three set points, Cirstea levelled the match with an ace on her fourth opportunity.
Poorly executed drop shots were an issue for Konta in the final set, and one particularly feeble effort helped Cirstea get the first break for 2-1.
Konta levelled immediately but was now routinely having to fight to hold her own service games, winning only 34% of points on her second serve during the match.
She fought back from 0-30 down to go 3-2 up but a gripping seventh game – which lasted more than 10 minutes – proved pivotal, Cirstea converting her sixth break point by superbly picking up a volley.
Konta had three break-back points in the next game but they were quickly snuffed out as Cirstea held for 5-3. Excellent serving allowed the Briton to stave off two match points in her next service game, but Cirstea was not fazed as she coolly sealed victory with an ace in two hours and 49 minutes.
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