Sharapova storms through at US Open

Maria Sharapova has kept alive her hopes of a second US Open crown, four years after her first, with an impressive 6-1, 6-2 win over Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic.

It was a far more accomplished performance from the 2006 champion than in the first round, when she was made to struggle at times against Jarmila Groth of Australia before winning in three sets.

And it sets her up well for a possible prime-time meeting with top seed and runner-up here last year, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, in the fourth round, with 18-year-old American wildcard Beatrice Capra standing in her way in Saturday’s third round.

Sharapova opened strongly, breaking the 68th-ranked Benesova in the second game for a 3-0 lead.

Meanwhile top seed Caroline Wozniacki powered her way into the third round of the US Open on Thursday, handing out a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash to Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen.

It was an impressive performance by the 20-year-old Dane, a surprise finalist here last year who, in the space of the last 12 months, has established herself among the elite in the sport.

She needed just 47 minutes to record her 11th straight win, which includes back-to-back titles in Montreal and New Haven, her third and fourth of the year, the most of any woman.

In two matches at Flushing Meadows, she has lost just two games.

“I go out there and I don’t give up. I don’t give any free points away and that is one of my strong points,” said Wozniacki of her merciless display against Chang

“I am feeling fresh, all recovered (from an ankle injury), from everything. I am happy to be playing injury-free. It’s perfect.”

Wozniacki will play another Taiwanese player, Chan Yung-Jan, for a place in the fourth round, where she could meet former champion Maria Sharapova of Russia.

Chan advanced to the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in 17 attempts when she defeated Austria’s Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-3.

The previous best for the 21-year-old from Taipei had been second-round appearances at the Australian Open in 2009, at Wimbledon this year and here in 2008.

She was in command from the start against Paszek, once touted as a budding star of tennis, but who has struggled with injuries over the last two years.

“I was not 100 percent in my first match and was missing the easy ball,” Chan said. “But that was better today and I am looking to play even better from now on in.”

The prospect of playing the top seed Wozniacki was not awesome, she said, as they had known each since they were juniors and had played several times.

“Also I love playing on the big courts,” she added.

Also through to the third round in early play Thursday was Russian seventh seed Vera Zvonareva, who eased past Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-1, 7-6 (7/5), and semi-finalist here last year Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who beat Julia Gorges of Germany 6-4, 7-5.

Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder used her experience to outplay Spanish 22nd seed Maria Jose Martinez 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 and she will next play Wickmayer for a place in the fourth round.

2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia moved through after breezing past Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 6-3 and fourth seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia who edged past Mirjana Lucic of Croatia 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

There was an upset on the Grandstand Court though as 18-year-old American wildcard Beatrice Capra ousted French 18th seed Aravane Rezai 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.