With her ranking down at 146, she needed another wildcard to get into the main draw of the US Open but she was in danger of missing NY after picking up an arm injury at Stanford, where she played her only hardcourt match of the year.
The woman of the moment and title favourite is Garbine Muguruza, who re-emerged from a hard year following her first grand slam title at the French Open in 2016 to power her way to the Wimbledon trophy.
The former champion brought out all that big-match experience to play, seeing off Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 42 minutes. "She beat me six times", Halep said.
The most consistent player for the first half of the year, the 25-year-old reached the top spot while she was on holiday after losing in the second round of Wimbledon.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova was issued a two-year suspension after testing positive for the banned heart and blood boosting drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban on appeal. "So I think it's really interesting, great time for women's tennis".
Some also saw Halep having to play Sharapova in the first round as an unfair draw since Sharapova is not your typical unseeded first-round matchup, even though the 30-year-old Russian has spent much of her comeback dealing with injuries.
"Behind all these crystals and little black dresses this girl has a lot of grit and she is not going anywhere", she continued.
Halep said: "Of course was a little bit like, 'How is possible again?" But she saved it and then stormed back to take five games in a row, stealing the second set and sending the showdown into a decisive third. The US Open runs through September 10.
"It's just here and there, a few points decided both of those matches (against Nadal and Raonic) and who knows what could have been if I won those matches". It also maintained her flawless 11-0 record in the first round at the U.S. Open and her 18-0 record at Arthur Ashe Stadium when playing at night.
Number one seeded Karolina Pliskova, who became No.1 in the world on July 17, will be seeking her first career major victory. She played well, served well, competed well. "So special", Sharapova said after the match, per the Post. "I mean, you feel then if you are there or you are close there you feel the pressure". No matter who won the volley, the crowd cheered in excitement, and it seemed to dawn on them around the eighth game in the second set that they were watching a truly special performance, let alone in the first round. "But I think I give everything I had".