23-year-old American Taylor Townsend dropped the first set of her second-round match with reigning Wimbledon champ and No. 4 Simona Halep Thursday, looking sloppy and flustered and easily pushed around. Undeterred, Townsend roared back for a dominant second set and outlasted Halep in a tense third-set tiebreak for a 2–6, 6–3, 7–6 upset win. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
There’s nothing in the recent history of this matchup to suggest that this upset was coming. Halep easily cruised past Townsend at the Miami Open back in March, and worked her over pretty good at Roland-Garros last summer. The first set looked like more of the same, but things turned quickly from there. Quite simply, Townsend beat Halep by dominating the match at the net, where she went over and over and over again, relentlessly, until Halep was a quivering mess.
It was suggested by a certain ecstatic tennis lover in Deadspin Slack that a supercut of all of Townsend’s successful volleys at the net would be a boss idea for this blog, but that would be an outrageous project! Townsend went to the net a ridiculous 106 times in the match, and won 64 of those points! She went to net 64 times in just the third set. What am I, Thelma Schoonmaker? That supercut would be done sometime next week, and you would no longer care to watch it. You will have to make do with this badass highlight clip, courtesy of YouTube, which shows Townsend’s Neo-esque reflexes:
Fittingly, the final point was won when Townsend went serve-volley on the third match point, drove Halep into the corner, and watched the higher seeded player’s return bounce off the bottom of the net. Here’s a relatively meaningless factoid that is nonetheless cool for putting Townsend’s name next to that of the most royal of tennis royalty: With today’s victory, Townsend becomes the first American woman to knock off the reigning Wimbledon champ at the U.S. Open since 2008, when it was done by Serena Williams. Hell yeah.