Sharapova tops No. 2 Halep at US Open

Venus Williams improves to 19-0 in Open's 1st Rd

Another familiar sight: The five-time major champion gutted out a victory.

Maria Sharapova's Grand Slam return from her doping ban continued Wednesday when the former world number one reached the US Open last 32 with a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-1 win over Timea Babos of Hungary.

"But there's also the realistic understanding of 'OK, you haven't been in this situation for a while, it's going to take a little time.' Managing expectations is part of it, and learning as you play the matches, it's something that I haven't done for a long time".

She remains on track to face career rival Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round after the Pole defeated Petra Martic in straight sets to book a second-round date with Yulia Putintseva.

Sharapova was also quizzed on her fitness after two slogs with Simona Halep and Babos on the back of an injury-hit year, amid suspicions she could go all the way in NY.

But even as Sharapova competes here, she remains the poster woman for Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" program.

"Every day I have the chance I have to play out here at the US Open is a special day and I'll look forward to the next one", Sharapova said. "But this was so much more".

The 30-year-old Russian was allowed back on the tour this April, but she was denied a wild-card invitation for the French Open the next month.

U.S. Tennis Association officials are proud of Frances Tiafoe's effort against Roger Federer.

Sofia Kenin won an all-U.S. matchup to get into Round 3.

US Order Closing of a Russian consulate
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday expressed "regret at the escalation of tensions in bilateral relations". The order affects Russia's "chancery annex" in Washington and a "consular annex" in NY .

It was a tremendously entertaining and high-quality contest, more befitting a final than a first-rounder.

Williams is one of the favorites after making it to the final of the Austalian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year.

Sharapova needed no extra motivation back on the stage she loves best and set about pummelling the Halep serve. The chair umpire repeatedly admonished spectators to hush.

Babos retrieved an early break in the second and then had two chances to open up a 4-2 lead. That was Sharapova's sixth return victor; she would finish with 14, more than enough to counter her seven double-faults.

Despite seeing a backhand volley clip the net cord twice before dropping her side, Sharapova held in a tense sixth game and converted break point at the third time of asking in the next to force a decider. But she couldn't convert it. Her departure means four of the top seven women are out of the field just three days into the two-week tournament.

"I definitely feel the respect from the athletes", Sharapova insisted. She raced ahead 3-0 in the third, then 5-2.

Past US Open champions advancing included Venus Williams and Marin Cilic into the third round, and Juan Martin del Potro and Svetlana Kuznetsova - who saved three match points - into the second.

"At the end of the year, you'll be able to find out", she said. "I think it would be quite obnoxious of me to come in here expecting I have a right to be in second week".

Eugenie Bouchard slumped to a 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 loss to Russia's Evgeniya Rodina with the Canadian hitting 46 unforced errors in an ugly snapshot of her season so far.

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