US Open: Muguruza loses to Pironkova, Keys continues Flushing Meadows sprint

The tournament has been a stumbling block for Garbine Muguruza. Madison Keys, however, won the first three games against her unseeded opponent.

Tsvetana Pironkova, playing in her first event since 2017, beat double Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza.   -  AP

Tsvetana Pironkova, playing in her first event since 2017, claimed one of the shock upsets at the U.S. Open on Thursday by dispatching double Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza 7-5, 6-3 to move into the third round at Flushing Meadows.

After three years away from the WTA Tour following the birth of her son Alexander, the unranked Bulgarian had 10th-seeded Muguruza smashing her racket and mumbling in frustration as the Spaniard's U.S. Open jinx continued to haunt her.

The tournament has been a stumbling block for the French Open and Wimbledon champion, who this year nearly added to her collection of major trophies when she reached the final in Australia.

In stark contrast to her success at the other slams, Muguruza has struggled to make an impact on the New York hardcourts.

She had made it past the second round once in seven previous visits to Flushing Meadows and saw her bid end there again.

Keys continues Flushing Meadows sprint

American Madison Keys once again wasted no time on court at Flushing Meadows, defeating Spain's Aliona Bolsova 6-2, 6-1 in less than an hour.

Keys, runner-up in 2017 and a semi-finalist in 2018, won the first three games against her unseeded opponent, who broke her serve after a pair of unforced errors late in the first set but was unable to catch up.

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Madison Keys reacts to winning a game during her match with Aliona Bolsova on Thursday.   -  AP

 

Keys, who defeated Timea Babos in 55 minutes on Tuesday, committed more than a dozen unforced errors but more than made up for it with her trademark aggressive forehand and monster serve, launching six aces.

Cirstea cracks Konta resistance

Sorana Cirstea rallied from a set down to upset ninth-seeded Briton Johanna Konta 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

The unseeded Romanian sent down 37 winners and won 13 of 16 points at the net to advance to the third round at Flushing Meadows for the third time in her career.

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Konta made a strong start, breaking Cirstea's serve in the opening game before running away with the first set, but paid the price for making 40 unforced errors.

Cirstea held her nerve in the second set tiebreak to turn the match on its head and broke Konta's serve twice in the decider before wrapping up victory with her seventh ace to set up a meeting with Czech 20th seed Karolina Muchova.

Anisimova fights off nerves

Amanda Anisimova has confessed that she was a bundle of nerves after staring down the barrel of an early exit during her battle against fellow American teenager Katrina Scott.

Anisimova, 19, beat her 16-year-old compatriot 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the third round, but struggled to contend with Scott's high-octane brand of tennis in the opening exchanges.

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Scott, who is ranked 637th in the world and made her Grand Slam main draw debut against Russia's Natalia Vikhlyantseva in Tuesday's first round, was in cruise control until Anisimova sparked into life with the score tied at 4-4 in the second set.

Anisimova, who reached the French Open semi-finals last year, faces Maria Sakkari of Greece in the next round.

Rampant Azarenka downs compatriot Sabalenka

Unseeded Victoria Azarenka put fellow Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka firmly in her place with an emphatic 6-1, 6-3 victory.

The 31-year-old former world number one reached the final at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago and signalled that she will take some stopping this year in her contest with the fifth seed.

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Victoria Azarenka whipped through the first set in less than half an hour as her Fed Cup teammate Aryna Sabalenka sprayed 17 unforced errors.   -  AP

 

Azarenka whipped through the first set in less than half an hour as her Fed Cup teammate Sabalenka sprayed 17 unforced errors on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court.

Sabalenka offered more resistance in the second stanza but twice Australian Open champion Azarenka was unrelenting as she set up a third-round date with Sachia Vickery or Iga Swiatek.

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