Sharapova holds off Kenin to reach last 16 at US Open

The round of 16 beckons for Maria Sharapova, who proved too strong for 18-year-old American Sofia Kenin at the US Open.

Russian star Maria Sharapova, the 2006 US Open winner, eased to victory at Flushing Meadows.   -  Getty Images

Maria Sharapova's hopes of a sixth Grand Slam crown remain alive after the former world No. 1 defeated American teenager Sofia Kenin in the US Open third round.

Playing her first Grand Slam since the 2016 Australian Open, having tested positive for a banned substance at Melbourne Park last year, Sharapova overcame Kenin 7-5 6-2 in New York on Friday.

Ranked below the 18-year-old, Sharapova was tested in an even opening set before the 2006 US Open winner eased to victory at Flushing Meadows.

Sharapova – who returned in April from a 15-month suspension for violating anti-doping rules but was denied a wildcard for the French Open and then pulled out of Wimbledon qualifying due to injury – will meet 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova in the round of 16.

It was a topsy-turvy start to the match, with holds of serve at a premium following three successive breaks.

Kenin saved two break points in the second game but she was unable to fend off a third as Sharapova broke for a 2-0 lead.

The young American, however, kept her composure to regain the break immediately, only to drop serve the very next game after Sharapova executed a delightful drop shot.

There was a chance for the streak of breaks to continue on Sharapova's serve but she denied Kenin, albeit unconvincingly, to grab a 4-1 lead.

Sharapova's lead was short-lived, however, as Kenin reeled off three consecutive games to level the set.

Kenin was unable to maintain her charge as a tie-break loomed after Sharapova – who tallied 28 unforced errors in 66 minutes – broke in the 12th game to close out the set.

That clearly deflated Kenin, who lost her way in the second set, falling 3-1 behind.

Kenin attempted one last rally, with a partisan crowd behind her, but Sharapova held on to move into the last 16 at the US Open for the first time since 2014.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Sharapova bt Kenin 7-5 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Sharapova - 38/33
Kenin - 7/16

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Sharapova - 8/7
Kenin - 1/6

BREAK POINTS WON
Sharapova - 6/11
Kenin - 3/10

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Sharapova - 54
Kenin - 65

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Sharapova - 72/42
Kenin - 52/27

TOTAL POINTS
Sharapova - 75
Kenin - 59