NEW YORK - Lesia Tsurenko beat Caroline Wozniacki at her own game Thursday, shocking the world number two 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the US Open.
Wozniacki, seeded second and seeking a second Grand Slam title to go with the Australian Open crown she won in January, followed world number one Simona Halep out of the last major of the year, leaving third seeded defending champion Sloane Stephens as the top player remaining in the women's draw.
"She was playing smarter than me," Wozniacki said of Tsurenko, the world number 36 who made the fourth round in New York in 2016. "She played the game that I was supposed to be playing. She got a lot of balls back. She played with the angles. She waited for the short ball. When the short ball came, she played aggressive."
Wozniacki, playing on the Louis Armstrong Stadium newly opened this year, said the court was a bit slower than the Arthur Ashe Stadium court where she beat Samantha Stosur in the first round.
"It's a beautiful court," she said of Armstrong, where Halep lost her opener on Monday and two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza exited on Wednesday. "I guess Wimbledon used to have a graveyard court," she added of the All England Club's old Court Two, once known as the Graveyard of Champions. "Maybe that is going to be the new graveyard court -- I think it's a little too early to tell."
Tsurenko's pre-match preparations were hurried thanks to New York traffic that had her arriving late at the National Tennis Center, leaving her little time to check out the new court. It didn't show as she executed her planned strategy to perfection.
"That was the game plan, to play consistent, to play patient, to choose the good ball to attack and maybe to go for a volley or just to play a winner," she said. "It worked today. I was really brave I think today."
The only possible concern for Tsurenko is a sore forearm that troubled her on her serve, something she'll seek treatment for before a third-round meeting with Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic. Siniakova saved a match point on the way to a 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4) victory over Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.
Despite another Grand Slam disappointment -- on the heels of a second-round exit at Wimbledon, Wozniacki said her Australian Open triumph makes 2018 a successful season no matter what else it has in store for her.
"I'm always going to say it's a great season because I won my first major," said the Dane. "I've won so many tournaments throughout my career, but I'd never won a Grand Slam. I think regardless what happens for the last few tournaments of the year, it's still going to be a great year because I won in Australia. It's something that nobody can ever take away from me."
Wimbledon women's champion Angelique Kerber kept her bid for a second US Open title on track, outlasting Sweden's Johanna Larsson 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. "I think we both really played on a really high level from the first point," said 2016 champion Kerber who had led by a set and 5-2 at one stage.
Kerber will next take on 2010 quarter-finalist Dominika Cibulkova after the Slovakian beat Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4 despite being docked two points for returning late from a heat break.
Belarus 26th seed Aryna Sabalenka continued her red-hot summer by seeing off 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 7-6 (9/7). Sabalenka, who won the New Haven tournament last week and reached the semi-finals in Cincinnati, has made the third round of a Slam for the first time.
Later Thursday, former champion Maria Sharapova plays under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights against Sorana Cirstea of Romania.AFP