A few days ago, when the #2017 Us Open main draw emerged, the women's singles contest was guaranteed a blockbuster in the opening round. The wild-card entry, Maria Sharapova, and Simona Halep [VIDEO] the world No. 2, were put in the same cage for the round of 128. As it turned out, it paid off watching their seventh WTA level encounter.

Playing in her first Grand Slam match since January 2016, Sharapova was standing on tense ground. But the same applied to Halep who was trying to close that world No.1 elusive bid. As a result, the Arthur Ashe Arena witnessed a three set thriller that had #Maria Sharapova as its winner.

The 30-year-old Russian is back and judging by how that part of the draw looks now with Halep and Johanna Konta out of the contest, she can hope for a deep run in New York.

Eleven years after her 2006 US Open success, Sharapova can get a new purpose in her professional career.

Sharapova has now a 7-0 lead to Simona Halep

Entering the encounter, for the first time in their head to head history, Simona Halep was seen as a favorite against her Russian nemesis. Despite being 30-years-old, Sharapova produced some outstanding tennis throughout the whole match. She did her usual game, pressing hard on every point.

What seemed to give her leverage was a superior level of mobility while covering the court. On the other side, Halep, an excellent defensive player, did her best to match the level of aggression she was receiving from the other side of the net. It went well for a while, but the service game was the key to Halep losing the match. Even though she made dozens of unforced errors, Sharapova compensated for that by hitting more than 50 winners.

Punishing Halep, especially on the second serve has shown who really was in charge of the match.

After a series of breaks in the opening set, Sharapova was able to deal the inaugural act by 6-4. The second set saw the Russian running with a 4-1 lead only to see Halep bouncing back to win the set by 6-4. As the match entered the third set, it seemed that Halep might pull out her first win over Sharapova. The Russian was expected to burn out but, it didn't happen anything like that, as the Russian broke Halep once more to put her nose in front for good. She is now into the second round where Timea Babos awaits. The player from Hungary survived a grueling battle against Viktorija Golubic.

Sharapova could use this US Open to improve her ranking

Currently ranked 146th in the world, Maria Sharapova could change things up with a deep US Open run. She has all the reason to hope for it now that the coast seems rather clear. The fourth quarter of the draw has lost both Johanna Konta and Simona Halep after the first round session.

If she gets past Timea Babos, Sharapova will have to deal with another low ranked player. Sevastova is likely to emerge in the fourth round while the quarterfinals may bring Sloane Stephens or Dominika Cibulkova. For Sharapova, this is good news as she may see her ranking surging back inside the top 100 or even higher. #No 2