Anastasija Sevastova says moments like her US Open upset of third seed Garbine Muguruza are why she came out of retirement.
The Latvian world No.48 stunned the French Open champion in the second round on Wednesday with a 7-5 6-4 victory in Arthur Ashe Stadium after returning to tennis last season following a nearly two-year retirement.
Spaniard Muguruza has never been past the second round at Flushing Meadows.
The 22-year-old fell to 124th-ranked Jana Cepelova in the second round at Wimbledon after she beat Serena Williams in the French Open final for her first major title.
Down two breaks in the second set, Muguruza saved two match points and rallied to get the set back on serve. Then she got broken to end the match.
Sevastova was relieved not to let her opportunity slip. “I had to show myself what could be, I am so happy that it went well,” Sevastova said post match.
“I think this stage, grand slams, playing on the biggest stage, it cannot get bigger.
“It’s only one match, it’s still a long way to go.” The 26-year-old Sevastova, who reached the round of 16 at the 2011 Australian Open, retired in May 2013 because of a series of injuries, mostly to her back and will now face another player on the comeback trail.
That player is Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko who came back to the tour in 2015 after having her first child.
Bondarenko earlier advanced to the third round with a tight 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 victory over China’s Saisai Zheng. While Muguruza floundered, Australian Open champion and tournament second seed Angelique Kerber stayed on track in her quest to unseat Serena Williams as world No.1 by beating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 6-2 7-6 (9-7).
Kerber rifled home an ace to finish the first set against the free swinging, 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni, then won a see-saw second set in which each player was broken three times on the way to a tiebreaker.
The Croat held two set points during the decider, and three overall, before losing it 9-7.
The left-handed German was one win away in Cincinnati from ending Williams’ long reign as No.1 before losing to Czech Karolina Pliskova in the final and has another chance to leapfrog the American at Flushing Meadows.
Lucic-Baroni raised her game in the second set, but could not overcome the steady Kerber as the big-hitting Croat blasted 37 winners while throwing in 55 unforced errors.
“I played very well in the first set,” said Kerber, who also reached the Wimbledon final where she lost to Williams.
“I moved good, I played good. I played my game.”
The German faced a set point in the 10th game before holding for 5-5.
Kerber fought off two more in the tiebreaker, with Lucic-Baroni serving with a 6-5 lead and again when the left-hander was serving down 6-7. Three errors by the Croat from that moment ended the match.
Kerber next faces American qualifier Catherine Bellis.
American eighth seed Madison Keys also advanced to the third round with an impressive 6-1 6-1 victory over countrywoman Kayla Day.
Seventh seed Roberta Vinci, who ended Serena Williams’ quest for a calendar year grand slam at the 2015 Open is also into the third round after beating American Christina McHale 6-1 6-3.