Muguruza advances, Konta out, Sharapova ousts Halep at US Open

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New York
Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza advanced and British seventh seed Johanna Konta was ousted at the US Open as Maria Sharapova´s long-awaited return to Grand Slam tennis neared. Spanish third seed Muguruza defeated American Varvara Lepchenko 6-0, 6-3 for her first triumph in Arthur Ashe Stadium, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on the first day of New York hardcourt matches. Muguruza, last year´s French Open champion, can reach the US Open third round for the first time Wednesday by defeating China´s Duan Ying-Ying. “Very happy I´m in the second round,” said Muguruza. “I´ve been here so many times and I´ve never done very well. I will try again and hopefully it will happen.” Serbia´s 78th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic upset Australian-born Konta 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, ending her slim hopes at taking the world number one ranking at the tournament. “I´m happy I had everything together and was able to put some serves in,” said Krunic, whose deepest Slam run was to the last 16 here in 2014. “It´s definitely not an easy loss to take. I would have liked to have been here much longer,” Konta said. “She played consistently much better than I did.” Meanwhile, World number one Karolina Pliskova eased into the U.S. Open second round with a no-nonsense 6-2 6-1 victory over Poland’s Magda Linette as rain began to fall at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday. The Czech, who will next face Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg or American qualifier Nicole Gibbs, outclassed her 72nd-ranked opponent after the roof on Arthur Ashe was closed just before the second set. Former world number one Maria  Sharapova made a triumphant return to Grand Slam competition Monday after a 15-month doping ban, outlasting second-ranked Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at the US Open.The 30-year-old Russian, who had only one hardcourt tuneup match due to a nagging forearm injury, swatted 60 winners with 64 unforced errors, setting the tempo and baffling Halep at times in a tension-packed thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium.“This girl has a lot of grit,” Sharapova said of herself. “And she’s not going anywhere.”Sharapova, who tested positive for meldonium at last year’s Australian Open, improved to 7-0 in her all-time rivalry with Halep, extending her mastery over the 25-year-old Romanian.“I just thought this was another day, another opportunity, another match but this was so much more,” Sharapova said.“You sometimes wonder why you put in all the work and this is exactly why.”An emotional Sharapova punctuated her shotmaking, at times erratic and other moments spectacular, with screams and fist pumps. She was energetic even at rest, closing her eyes and bouncing her legs as she sat between sets.After the final point, Sharapova dropped to her knees in tears as a replay appeal showed what she already knew.—AFP

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