Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova began her long-awaited return to Grand Slam on a winning note as she outplayed second-seed Simona Halep of Romania in a three-set thriller at the US Open here on 29 August.
Sharapova, who is playing her first major after coming back from the 15-month doping ban after receiving wildcard, weathered a second-set letdown to beat Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in an exhilarating opening-round clash that lasted two hours and 44 minutes.
With the win, Sharapova extended her winning streak to 23 consecutive first round Grand Slam victories, 11 of those coming at the Flushing Meadows.
The Russian star will now cross swords with Hungary's Timea Babos in the second round.
Sharapova headed into the fourth major of the season, having played just one match since her return to tennis in May.
The five-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from the recently-concluded Cincinnati Masters with a left forearm injury. The same injury had also forced her to withdraw from the Bank of the West Classic after winning her first match, and the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
Meanwhile, the defeat ends Halep's bid for a maiden Grand Slam title as well as derails her chance to become the World No.1 for the fifth time this season.