Two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka, who's reached three finals at the US Open, eased into Round 3 at the Flushing Meadows on Thursday, with a straight sets victory over Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk.
Azarenka, the No. 26 seed and former world No. 1, won 6-2, 6-3 to open Thursday's play on Court 17 as she got the lead and never let up.The 88-minute win was in stark contrast to Azarenka's Round 1 victory against American teenager Ashlyn Krueger, played on Tuesday.
In that match, she built a 6-1, 4-1 lead but needed to win in three, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.Azarenka, who also won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, thrived on a sunny hard court. Though Kostyuk hit more winners (23 to 13), she also totaled more unforced errors (31 to 15). Staying steady, Azarenka broke Kostyuk's serve five times and won six straight games from 4-2 in the first.
Azarenka is through to Round 3 for the 13th time in 15 career appearances in New York. In a second quarter of the women's draw that also featured Naomi Osaka, Venus Williams, Emma Raducanu, and Elena Rybakina when the event began, Azarenka is the only major winner left.
Azarenka's next opponent could be No. 4 seed Paula Badosa, who faces Petra Martic later on Thursday.Also in this section of the draw are former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, the 2016 US Open finalist and No. 22 seed; No. 19 seed Danielle Collins, the reigning Australian Open finalist; and No. 6 seed Aryna Sabalenka.
Also in the fray is Aliz Cornet, the veteran Frenchwoman who is in her record 63rd Grand Slam main draw and had beaten Raducanu in Round 1.