Sharapova cruises, Kuznetsova overcomes sloppy effort at U.S. Open

Aug 31, 2007 - 12:37 AM FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- Maria Sharapova seems well on her way to a successful title defense at the U.S. Open.

The second seed from Russia, Sharapova crushed Australia's Casey Dellacqua, 6-1, 6-0, on Thursday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 20-year-old Sharapova began her title defense on Tuesday night against Italy's Roberta Vinci, needing only 50 minutes to record a victory by a similar score, 6-0, 6-1.

On Thursday, the 6-2 blonde was only on court for 51 minutes in her first career encounter against the 22-year-old Dellacqua, setting up a third-round match against No. 30 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

"It's only going to get tougher from here, so I'm looking forward to the challenge," Sharapova said on court after the match.

However, it was a sloppy day for Sharapova's compatriot, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The fourth-seeded Kuznetsova committed 34 unforced errors to her opponent's nine but still advanced past the second round.

The Russian, a surprise champion here in 2004, kicked off the day session at the Arthur Ashe Stadium when she beat France's Camille Pin, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.

But the statistics betrayed a less than impressive performance from Kuznetsova, who only managed 12 more winners than those unforced errors, 19 of which came in a terrible second set against the unseeded player.

"In the second set, I missed so many of my chances," Kuznetsova said. "I've been missing so many, I was not moving my feet.

"It wasn't a good second set, for sure, but there was nothing I could change. So from that moment on, I just started to turn it on and just play the right shots. But I'm not happy it went to the third set."

Another Russian, No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze, had far fewer problems in dispatching Australia's Nicole Pratt, needing just 72 minutes for a 6-3, 6-4 victory. No. 11 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland breezed past Severine Bremond of France, 6-3, 6-0, in 61 minutes.

Seventh seed Nadia Petrova wasted little time dumping fellow Russian Anastasia Rodionova out of the tournament with 7-5, 6-1 victory. No. 13 Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic shook off Italy's Flavia Pennetta in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6 (7-0).

Martina Hingis, the 16th seed from Switzerland, beat Pauline Parmentier of France, 6-2, 7-5 on Ashe.

It was Hingis' second straight-sets win of the tournament after failing to progress past the second round in her comeback season in 2006.

"I'm very happy to be playing again," Hingis said. "I already did better than last year, so I feel like I've got nothing to lose out here this time.

"I played well. Towards the end of the first and second set was a great atmosphere because there was a lot of people. It felt like they were really into it. ... A lot of long rallies and good points in there, so it was good."

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