Maria Sharapova will face the new hero of American tennis after booking her place in the third round at Flushing Meadows.
Sharapova beat Iveta Benesova 6-1 6-2 in just 66 minutes in the second round to set up a last-32 clash with home favourite Beatrice Capra, the 18-year-old having earlier put out France’s Aravane Rezai, the 18th seed.
The 23-year-old Russian, the 14th seed, will take on Capra for a place in the last 16 after the 18-year-old, who is making her main tour debut in New York, made the most of claiming a place in the tournament by winning an eight-woman USTA wild card play-off.
Capra, a 9/1 shot to beat Sharapova and ranked a lowly 371st in the world, admitted: “I don’t even want to think about playing Sharapova right now.
“But it would be so amazing if I got to play on Arthur Ashe Stadium. I can’t believe that I just won my first two matches here.
“I’m just overwhelmed, I’m so excited. I was so nervous going out there but I had a lot of support and I think that helped me get through today.”
Sharapova, whose career has been disrupted by a serious shoulder injury, said: “It’s really nice to be on court and go out there and not have to worry about anything but having to win.
“At this point last year I am sure I had the same feelings but when you look back you know you were not quite there, your game was not there and you were not ready physically.”
Maria Sharapova has been cut from 14/1 to 4/1 for the US Open title and is 1/33 to beat Capra in the third round.
Sharapova vs Capra will ignite the fans at Flushing Meadows. See the full US Open tennis betting market here.