Sharapova, Wawrinka victorious, get through to 3rd round of the US Open
By Rebecca Bryan ,AFP
August 29, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
NEW YORK -- French Open champion Maria Sharapova and Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka survived some shaky moments Wednesday to book their third-round berths at the U.S. Open.
Sharapova, who lifted her fifth Grand Slam title at Roland Garros this year, fought back from a set down in a gritty 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over 95th-ranked Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru.
The fifth-seeded Russian was reluctant to blame the windy conditions in the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium court for her difficulties, which included 46 unforced errors.
And after two hours and 26 minutes on court — in a match that began in hot sunshine and ended under the floodlights — she had her 17th three-set win of the season, the most on the WTA Tour.
"It was difficult," Sharapova said. "Obviously the conditions were tough. You start in the sun, you finish under the lights.
"Overall I felt like in the end I was in much better shape than she was and I could have played another few sets. Mentally that helped me a lot."
Sharapova and Wawrinka were the day's headliners as two-time defending women's champion Serena Williams and the top men Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray all had the day off.
Wawrinka, the third seed from Switzerland, turned back the challenge of Brazilian left-hander Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/1) to become the first men's seed into the third round.
Wawrinka was untouchable on his serve through two sets, not facing a break point until Bellucci broke him twice to take the third.
The Brazilian broke Wawrinka in the third game of the fourth, but the Swiss broke back to knot the set at 3-3. After holding at love for a 5-4 lead, Wawrinka had two match points against Bellucci's serve in the 10th game but couldn't convert either.
He grabbed the tiebreaker by the throat, however, and finished it off with a service winner after two hours and 36 minutes with the hands of the clock creeping toward 1 am.
"I was playing really well," Wawrinka said of his sparkling start. "I was really aggressive and serving really well.
"When you drop your level a little against Bellucci, it's tough. He starts to play better."
The tension seemed to get to Wawrinka at least briefly when he told one loud courtside fan to shut-up.
But he was able to get back on the attack.
"The fourth set I tried to focus on my game," he said. "I was more aggressive at the end of the match."