Robson stuns Li, Azarenka routs Jie
Top-ranked Belarussian Victoria Azarenka, who won the Australian Open earlier this year, needed only 59 minutes to rout China's Zheng Jie 6-0 6-1 to advance to the third round of the US Open on Friday.
One favourite who was handed a third-round exit was Zheng's compatriot Li Na, who became the latest victim of British giantkiller Laura Robson. Robson's gritty 6-4 6-7 6-2 triumph over former French Open champion Li, who triumphed in Cincinnati earlier this month, also created a buzz at Flushing Meadows.
Robson sent four-times grand slam champion Kim Clijsters into retirement in the second round but her upset of ninth-seeded Li surely made believers of those who thought she might be a one-hit wonder.
Next up in the fourth round is Australian Samantha Stosur.
"I have had a fairly tough draw, haven't I?" the soft-spoken 18-year-old, who was born in Australia, told reporters with a laugh.
"You have to beat who is in front of you. ... That's what I managed to do so far. I play Stosur now, who is defending champ. That's going to be really tough."
At 2-2 in the third set, Robson thought she had broken serve but umpire Louise Engzell ruled that the point should be replayed, even though Li had missed with her return.
The 89th-ranked Robson, however, refused to bend, breaking Li's serve twice to lead 5-2 before serving out the match.
"I wouldn't say I wasn't distracted. I was a little bit annoyed," Robson said of the umpire's call. "But that's what happens from time to time, so you've got to deal with it."
The defending champion had little trouble advancing, as Stosur cruised by American Vavara Lepchenko 7-6 6-2.
Stosur was broken in the opening game of her match, setting the tone for a gruelling first set, which lasted 59 minutes. But the Australian secured the tiebreaker 7-5 and blew through the second set over a frustrated Lepchenko in 29 minutes.
"As the match went on I probably became a little bit more comfortable, got used to her spin, and maybe the wind a little bit more," said Stosur, who lost only five games in her first two matches. "Once I got that first set then maybe I relaxed a little bit more."
Maria Sharapova continued her imperious march through the draw as she crushed American college player Mallory Burdette 6-1 6-1 to reach the fourth round.
The Russian, who has lost just seven games in her first three matches, next plays compatriot Nadia Petrova, a 6-4 7-5 winner over Czech Lucie Safarova.