Maria Sharapova rolled into the last 16 at the US Open by overpowering US teen Sofia Kenin on Friday.
Former world No 1 Sharapova, the 2006 US Open winner in her first Grand Slam since serving a 15-month doping ban, downed the 139th-ranked wildcard 7-5, 6-2 and moved into a fourth-round clash with Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, who tested positive for the blood booster meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, reached the round of 16 for the 14th time in 15 Slams since the 2011 US Open.
Sharapova, who returned from her ban in April, was snubbed for a wildcard in the French Open and injured for Wimbledon but was given a US Open wildcard despite playing only one hardcourt tuneup match due to a forearm injury.
The 30-year-old Russian broke Kenin with a forehand winner after 66 minutes to swipe the first set, exchanged early second-set breaks on double faults, then broke again in the sixth and last games for the victory.
“She came out and had nothing to lose so I’m really glad I got through,” Sharapova said.
Sharapova blasted eight aces and 38 winners with 33 unforced errors while Kenin hit only seven winners in the match.
NEW AUNT VENUS ADVANCES
Baby news from Florida turned heads as Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion and six-time US Open winner, gave birth to a baby daughter.
She was pregnant in January when she beat older sister Venus Williams in the Australian Open final. US ninth seed Venus beat Greece’s 95th-ranked Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4 and said she was “super-excited.”
“To win in straight sets shows I’m playing some good tennis,” Venus said.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza needed only 62 minutes to defeat Slovakian 31st seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1 and continue her best US Open run as well as take command of the fight for women’s world No 1.
Only current No 1 Karolina Pliskova and fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina can deny Muguruza reaching the top spot for the first time.
“I’m taking every match as a final here,” Muguruza said.
Awaiting Muguruza next is Czech 13th seed Petra Kvitova, the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion who defeated French 18th seed Caroline Garcia 6-0, 6-4