Maria Sharapova’s upset victory over No. 2 seed Simona Halep in her first Grand Slam appearance since serving a 15-month doping ban has been the talk of the US Open, and the Russian’s run at Flushing Meadows continued on Wednesday. On an unseasonably chilly day in New York and in a match where she appeared to get stronger as the time wore on, Sharapova defeated Hungarian Timea Babos 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 in the second round of the tournament.
During a thrilling first set, Sharapova got off to a slow start against Babos and found herself down four games to two. The 30-year-old’s footwork looked considerably shakier than in her first round match against Halep, perhaps due to her decision to not practice on Tuesday because of fatigue. She was able to battle back to 6-6 and send the set to a tiebreaker. Babos controlled the tiebreaker, eventually securing the set by a seven points to four margin.
The second set was very competitive as well, with Sharapova this time getting off to the early lead. Babos, who made very few unforced errors in the first set, struggled throughout the second set to adjust to Sharapova’s power. The five-time Grand Slam champion went on to win the set 6-4, making it the second time in as many matches that Sharapova would have to play in a third and decisive set.
In the third set, Sharapova continued to get stronger and played her best tennis of the match. The 2006 US Open champion started the third set just as she started the second, breaking and then holding Babos in the first two games. Moving better than she had for the entire affair, Sharapova was able to once again overwhelm Babos with her serve and return power. Babos, who bested Swiss Viktorija Golubic in the first round, simply got worn down by the more experienced Sharapova. Known for her ability to win three set matches, Sharapova took the final set in resounding fashion by a score of six games to one.
A pair of Americans, Sofia Kenin and Sachia Vickery, play on Wednesday with a chance to face Sharapova in the third round. [/restrict]