Five-year US Open best for returning Halep

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Simona Halep has shrugged off her recent injury anguish to advance to the third round of the US Open for the first time in five years.

The former world No.1 and two-time grand-slam champion had been forced to miss this year's French Open and Wimbledon with a calf injury and a series of other concerns.

But despite playing with heavy strapping on her thigh, Halep was in dominant form as she swept aside Slovakian lucky loser Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-1.

"I have to admit I am more confident, because before the tournament I was a little bit worried having not played for five or six months," Halep said in her on-court interview.

"It's always tough to handle the pressure but I think I did well. It's great to be back at the US Open and to play and win some matches."

The Romanian's match was moved to Arthur Ashe Stadium after defending champion Naomi Osaka received a second-round walkover from Serbia's Olga Danilovic due to illness.

"I have been feeling unwell these past few days dealing with a non-COVID related viral illness. I was really looking forward to playing against Naomi on Arthur Ashe Stadium today, but not to be this time," qualifier Danilovic wrote on social media.

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka sustained a hand injury after falling in the first set of her 6-3 6-1 win over Tamara Zidansek, raising questions over her ability to recover in time for her third-round match against Danielle Collins on Friday.

"I was really scared that I broke it (my hand)," Sabalenka said.

"It was really painful. I'm really happy that I could finish this match, and I have an extra day to see what's going on.

"I'm really hoping that I will be able to play on Friday."

Grand slam champions Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza set up a third-round meeting after the pair secured straight-sets wins over Jasmine Paolini and Andrea Petkovic respectively.

Azarenka, who staged a remarkable comeback last year to reach her third Flushing Meadows final, said she was relishing the prospect of testing herself against in-form Spanish ninth seed Muguruza.

"She's a very difficult opponent, a grand-slam champion, so she definitely knows what it takes to be on big stages and win big matches," 18th-seeded Azarenka said.

"But I love those kinds of challenges."

Elina Svitolina, a semi-finalist two years ago, Czech Barbora Krejcikova - the French Open champion, Elise Mertens, Ons Jabeur, Elena Rybakina and Danielle Collins all advanced to the round of 32.

Earlier in the day, 25th-seeded Daria Kasatkina rallied from a set down to beat Olympic silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova 3-6 6-4 6-4.

with Reuters

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