Photo: Paul ZimmerAgnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Day three of the US Open marked the first major exit of this year’s tournament as fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska was beaten in straight sets.
Radwanska, who has failed to progress beyond the fourth round in eight previous appearances, fell for a fifth time in the second round as Peng Shuai neatly planted a backhand winner onto the line to secure an unexpected 63 64 win.
Radwanska acknowledged her New York misfortunes but was full of praise for her opponent, “I think here is not really the new thing for me. I didn't play bad today. I think it was just her day. Of course I could do something different maybe or try something else, as well, but I really try my best and I was fighting till the end. I just couldn't do it.”
Fans who were lucky enough to have tickets for Arthur Ashe stadium may have been forgiven for thinking lightning was about to strike twice as Maria Sharapova lost the first set to world No. 95 Alexandra Dulgheru. The Russian managed to regroup and come from behind, as she often has this year, to avoid the upset and move into the next round courtesy of a 46 63 62 victory.
After acknowledging her opponents great level, Sharapova highlighted her strong physical ability as a winning factor, “It was a very long match. 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.”
The 2006 champion moves into a tough third round with 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki, “She's a great player. She's a very powerful, aggressive player. I expect a tough match from her.”
On the men’s side, Stan Wawrinka was made to work hard in the night session on Ashe as he beat Thomaz Bellucci 63 64 36 76(1). The third seed, who made it to the semifinals in 2013, hit 51 winners to 43 unforced errors in the second round clash.
Wawrinka will be looking to address recent issues in losing focus from winning positions, “I had one bad game, change my focus. I start to focus on what he was doing, not on what I was doing. It make difference. He start to play better. I drop a little bit my level and that change completely the match.”
The Australian Open champion will next face Slovenian Blaz Kavcic who upset 30th seed Jeremy Chardy in straight sets.
Tomas Berdych confidently manoeuvred his way through a tricky first round encounter with 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt 63 64 63.
The sixth seed converted six of his 19 break point opportunities and was happy to have handled the task he faced so well, “The heat, the wind, and facing Lleyton for the first round, it's nothing that what you really want to have. But otherwise, when you are prepared and feel good, that's a perfect start.
Grigor Dimitrov also booked his place in the second round with a comfortable 62 76(4) 62 win over Ryan Harrison. The Bulgarian tallied an impressive 37 winners to 19 unforced errors to book a second round encounter with Dudi Sela of Israel.
There were mixed fortunes for America’s day three leading women Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams. Stephens rallied from behind to take the first set over Johanna Larsson but could not find a way over the line as her Swedish opponent rallied to win the next two sets and seal the match 57 64 62.
Venus Williams managed to lift home spirits in the night session however, the two-time champion cruised past Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 61 64 as she continues to enjoy positive results in 2014. She will next face 2012 Roland Garros runner-up Sara Errani for a place in the fourth round.
Other high profile women to make the third round include Angelique Kerber who saw off Alla Kudryavtseva 62 64, Caroline Wozniacki who overcame Aliaksandra Sasnovich 63 64 and Jelena Jankovic who made her way past Tsvetana Pironkova 75 64.