No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka in the night match led the Top 10-seeded men’s winners, with a couple minor upsets sprinkled in on Wednesday at the US Open.
Wawrinka in the final match, which stretched until after midnight EST, defeated Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1).
“I was playing really well, I was really aggressive,” Wawrinka said. “In the fourth set I tried to focus on my game and not what he was doing.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 6 Tomas Berdych overpowering former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-4, 6-3; and No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov beating a hobbled Ryan Harrison 6-2, 7-6(4), 6-2.
“It’s a tough opponent, a big challenge,” said Berdych, who trailed 1-4 in the second set before winning 11 of the next 14 games against Hewitt. “The conditions were extremely tough today. The heat, the wind, and facing Lleyton for the first round, it’s not what you really want to have. But otherwise, when you are prepared and feel good, that’s a perfect start.”
Other seeded winners were No. 11 Ernests Gulbis, No. 14 Marin Cilic, No. 18 Kevin Anderson who edged Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 7-6 in the fifth, No. 19 Feliciano Lopez who topped Ivan Dodig when the Croatian retied in the fifth set, and No. 32 Joao Sousa who likewise beat Canadian Frank Dancevic 7-6 in the fifth.
Gulbis after his match received extra scrutiny from the press regarding his unorthodox forehand.
“I just pay no attention to it,” Gulbis said. “I play like I feel. Again, the best is when you play from your subconscious and when you don’t think. You cannot think on court. You don’t have time. You just have to react. And, yeah, technique. You can work on certain things, but I definitely didn’t work that my forehand looks specifically or better or worse.”
On the upset tip Wednesday were Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili beating No. 27 Santiago Giraldo in four, and Slovenian Blaz Kavcic rolling No. 30 seed Jeremy Chardy in straights.
On the women’s side, a Top 10 player and two other seeds went out on Wednesday in second-round play.
China’s Peng Shuai, one time touted as a breakthrough player in her early career, without back-up results, on Wednesday defeated No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.
“I told myself to fight, and don’t think about that match,” said Peng, referring to holding match points at the 2011 Australian Open and failing to close the deal. “This is an amazing time for me.”
In other upsets Sweden’s Johanna Larsson topped the fight-challenged American and No. 21 seed Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, and Swiss comer Belinda Bencic outlasted Japanese No. 31 seed Kurumi Nara 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
Stephens led 7-5, 3-0 before the wheels came off.
“Things just got a little shaky,” Stephens said of her inability to close. “She played a solid game, and it was just unfortunate. I had many opportunities, but just couldn’t convert…I’m not going to dwell on it.”
No. 2 seed Simona Halep led the other Top 10 seeds into the third round, defeating Slovak Jana Cepelova 6-2, 6-1, and joined by No. 5 Maria Sharapova weathering Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; No. 6 Angelique Kerber defeating Russian qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva 6-2, 6-4; No. 9 Jelena Jankovic topping Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 6-4, and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki defeating Belarus qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 6-4.
“Just because you come in as a favorite doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to hold the trophy at the end of the two weeks,” said the No. 5 seed Sharapova, elevating herself to favorite status. “That’s why we play this sport. You start from the first round.”
Other seeded winners were No. 13 Sara Errani, No. 14 Lucie Safarova needing three sets to get by Chinese qualifier Zheng Saisai, No. 18 Andrea Petkovic who beat Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig in a third-set breaker, No. 19 Venus Williams, No. 22 Alize Cornet, No. 26 Sabine Lisicki, and No. 28 Roberta Vinci who came from a set down to beat Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.
A leader on the tour early in her career, Venus says she is now playing catch-up with sister Serena.
“It’s good to be out here,” said Williams after having a tough time finishing off Swiss Timea Bacsinszky 6-1, 6-4. “Watching Serena last night, she played so well so I tried to do the same thing.”
Matches to look for on Thursday include (16) Victoria Azarenka vs. Christina McHale, (1) Serena Williams vs. Vania King in an all-American, (1) Novak Djokovic vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu, (3) Petra Kvitova vs. Petra Cetkovska in an all-Czech, Sam Querrey vs. (28) Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, American wildcard Nicole Gibbs vs. (23) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 15-year-old American wildcard sensation Catherine Bellis vs. Zarina Diyas, (22) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. net crusher Michael Llodra, (24) Samantha Stosur vs. upset specialist Kaia Kanepi, (11) Flavia Pennetta vs. American upstart Shelby Rogers, and 2014 WTA grasscourt title winner Coco Vandeweghe vs. (15) Carla Suarez Navarro.
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