Maria Sharapova will face the new hero of American tennis for the second year running at the US Open 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.
In the third round last year Sharapova, the 2006 champion, came up against Melanie Oudin and lost in three sets as the 17-year-old went on to reach the quarter-finals.
This time 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.
“I don’t even want to think about playing Sharapova right now,” Capra added.
“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.
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.”