Emma Raducanu stormed into the third round of the Cincinnati Open with a 6-0 6-2 thrashing of Victoria Azarenka on Wednesday, signalling she will be well prepared for her U.S. Open title defence.
World number one Iga Swiatek beat former U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens 6-4 7-5 to start her campaign at the WTA 1000 tournament, the last big tune-up event before the hardcourt major kicks off in New York.
It was a Tour-leading 50th win of the season for two-time French Open champion Swiatek, who will meet Madison Keys in the third round after the American beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-4 7-5.
After thumping Serena Williams 6-4 6-0 in the first round, Raducanu delivered another dominating display, the 10th seed needing just 62 minutes on centre court to dismiss twice Australian Open winner Azarenka.
Raducanu, who has not won a tournament since capturing last year’s title at Flushing Meadows as a 150th-ranked qualifier, appears to be hitting her stride with the season’s final Grand Slam coming up from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11.
She next takes on American seventh seed Jessica Pegula, who rallied to beat Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk 6-7(5) 6-1 6-2.
Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina barely broke sweat in a 6-3 6-1 win over Garbine Muguruza while Ons Jabeur, her opponent in the grasscourt major final, was pushed hard by hometown favourite Caty McNally. World number five Jabeur saved three match points to edge the 20-year-old, ranked 179th in the world, 6-3 4-6 7-6(7) and set up a third-round match against twice former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
Two-time major winner Simona Halep, who won last week’s Canadian Open in Toronto, pulled out due of a right thigh injury before her match against Veronica Kudermetova, who advanced to a third-round meeting with Ajla Tomljanovic.
Australian Tomljanovic lost the first set tiebreaker to Spain’s world number four Paul Badosa but bounced back superbly to win 12 of the next 14 games for a 6-7(3) 6-0 6-2 victory to close out play on Wednesday.
Nadal crashes out in second round
Rafael Nadal crashed out of Western & Southern Open after losing the match 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-3 against Borna Coric of Croatia here on Thursday.
Nadal’s defeat ends his bid for a return to the top spot in the ATP Rankings this week. The World No. 3 will have another chance to leapfrog Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev at the US Open.
The Croatian edged Nadal to advance to the third round in Cincinnati, battling for two hours, 51 minutes to secure his biggest win of the season by both opponent and stage.
Borna Coric picked up his fifth tour-level win since his March return from shoulder surgery on Wednesday at the Western & Southern Open. But with this one, the former World No. 12 announced that he is back at his best.
He will next face Roberto Bautista Agut, who advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 win against home hope Marcos Giron earlier on Wednesday.