Sharapova battles past Babos
After the euphoria of her dramatic triumph over Simona Halep on the opening night of the US Open, it was always going to be tough for Maria Sharapova to recover and deliver again two days later
The five-time Grand Slam winner, in just her third match since May, was flat-footed and sluggish in the early exchanges but her renowned battling qualities enabled her to recover from a set down and squeeze beyond the erratic Timea Babos 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1.
It was an untidy contest that will quickly be forgotten, but the unrelenting Russian did finish the match with a flurry of winners. “It was definitely tough to control the emotions yesterday,” admitted the former champion.
‘As much as you want to be happy about what I accomplished in that match [with Halep], you want to move on really fast so finding that balance is really hard.
“I felt going into the match today that I just wanted to get it done and I did. It wasn’t my best tennis, I felt like it was a scrappy match, but those days are sometimes the best as you get through and give yourself another chance.”
Elina Svitolina fought back from a precarious position to defeat Katerina Siniakova 6-0 6-7(5) 6-3 in a first round contest that took two days to complete.
The Ukrainian appeared to be in cruise control as she sauntered to the first set however she soon encountered stiff resistance and was taken to a decider after a lengthy rain delay.
Confident and composed, Siniakova established a 2-0 lead in the third set but she was quickly pegged back by her dogged opponent. The No.4 seed was more assertive in the crunch and her change in approach helped her clock up win number 46 of an outstanding season.
“I was playing great in the first set and then she [Siniakova] came back as she is a good player,” said Svitolina. "I was a little bit unlucky to have to stop yesterday because I was playing good and feeling good.
“Today it was really hard to keep my focus as she had nothing to lose and was playing freely. I’m very happy that I could win the third set and play very solid tennis.”
The match began on Tuesday and Svitolina romped through the opener in just 24 minutes as her opponent continually misfired from the baseline. The Czech was livid with her performance, but she improved considerably in the second set.
The 21-year-old stepped on the accelerator and lashed her backhand with intent - and it brought her success. She stayed with her higher ranked opponent in the second set and forced a tiebreak before the rain began to fall.
On the restart, Siniakova was quicker out the blocks and she deservedly bagged the shootout to prolong the contest.
In the decider, Svitolina was in retreat mode but she did well to rectify the situation. Her willingness to seize the initiative eventually paid dividends and she finished the duel impressively.
In the first match of the day in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Evgeniya Rodina took advantage of an error-strewn display from Eugenie Bouchard to book her spot in the second round.
“I’m so happy, because today I played very good,” said the Russian after a 7-6(2) 6-1 win. “I tried to focus every single point and play more aggressive. I think my game worked well."
Kristina Mladenovic’s dismal form continues as she picked up just five games in a straight-set defeat to Monica Niculescu. The No.14 seed from France has now lost four matches on the bounce.
Nicole Gibbs earned a shot at the world No.1, Karolina Pliskova, after a 6-0 1-6 6-1 success over Verónica Cepede Royg and Jennifer Brady took out Andrea Petkovic 6-4 3-6 6-1.
There were also wins for Venus Williams, Agnieszka Radwańska, Svetlana Kuznestova, Elena Vesnina, Kirsten Flipkens and Coco Vandeweghe.