NEW YORK, USA (AFP) — World number one Victoria Azarenka and Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer advanced at the US Open with straight-set victories yesterday at the season's final Grand Slam event.
Azarenka reached the third round by defeating Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-2 in only 65 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Reigning Australian Open champion Azarenka, who has reached the last eight in every Grand Slam event except the US Open, will next face Chinese 28th seed Zheng Jie, who beat Slovakian qualifier Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-1.
The 23-year-old from Belarus, whose 26-match win streak to begin the season was the best women's start since 1997, seeks her 13th career title and fifth trophy of the year on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts.
Ferrer, who became best man in a quarter of the draw when compatriot Rafael Nadal pulled out with knee problems, defeated South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).
Ferrer, whose best Grand Slam showing was a 2007 US Open semi-final run, booked a second-round match against Dutch qualifier Igor Sijsling, who beat Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Only world number Roger Federer has won more titles this year than Ferrer, whose crowns include Auckland, Acapulco, Buenos Aires, s-Hertogenbosch and Bastad.
America's Brian Baker, who lost six years of his career to an assortment of injuries, reached the second round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Czech Jan Hajek.
US 21-year-old US wildcard Mallory Burdette, ranked 252nd, booked her place in the third round with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Czech Lucie Hradecka. She could face idol Sharapova next.
Hard-serving John Isner, the fortnight's top hope to end a nine-year US men's Grand Slam title drought as the ninth seed, begins his quest against Belgian Xavier Malisse.
Three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters, playing her farewell event, risks her 22-match New York win streak against Britain's Laura Robson in a second-round match.
And third seeds Sharapova and Andy Murray of Britain were due take the court in night matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday, with Olympic champion Murray trying to become the first man into the third round.