Chinese fifth seed Li Na advanced to the third round of the US Open on Wednesday by defeating 100th-ranked Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2.
Li will next face the winner of a later match between British 30th seed Laura Robson and France’s Caroline Garcia. Robson ousted Li in the third round of last year’s US Open.
Agnieszka Radwanska joined Li to reach the US Open third round on Wednesday as defending men’s champion Andy Murray impatiently waited to start his New York campaign.
Radwanska, promoted to third seed after the injury-forced withdrawal of Maria Sharapova, defeated Spanish world number 103 Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, 6-0, 7-5 while Li, the Chinese fifth seed, beat 100th-ranked Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2.
Radwanska, who has never got beyond the fourth round in New York, was on course for a quick-fire win over Torro-Flor, her second successive Spanish opponent, when she raced through the first set in just 21 minutes, losing just seven points.
But Torro-Flor, dressed in matching colours of blue and pink, made the Pole work for her win in the second set with three breaks of serve.
Radwanska, however weathered the unexpected storm, going through to a third-round clash against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, capitalising on her rival’s 38 unforced errors and 10 double faults.
Li, playing in her 30th Grand Slam and a New York quarter-finalist in 2009, clinched her third career win over policeman’s daughter Arvidsson, who has now not progressed beyond the second round in seven attempts.
The Chinese star will next face either British 30th seed Laura Robson, who knocked her out of the tournament last year, or France’s Caroline Garcia.
“Both players have improved a lot in the last year,” said Li. “I look forward to the chance of playing Laura.”
Meanwhile, Murray begins the defence of his title almost 48 hours after second seed Rafael Nadal, viewed as the most likely contender to triumph this year, started his campaign.
“I’m playing my first round match at the us open at 7pm on a wednesday...,” tweeted Murray in thinly-veiled frustration at a schedule which will see even first-round matches in the mixed doubles completed before he takes the court.
Having ended Britain’s embarrassing Grand Slam hoodoo with his US Open breakthrough 12 months ago, Murray starts his first major as a defending champion against Michael Llodra, the 33-year-old Frenchman who is edging towards retirement.
The 26-year-old Murray has added the Wimbledon title since winning in New York last year, comfortably burying for ever all talk of Fred Perry, the country’s last men’s champion at a major in 1936.
Also on Wednesday, women’s champion Serena Williams, chasing a fifth US Open title, tackles Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.
Williams is playing in her 53rd Grand Slam and boasts a record of 52 wins against just one defeat in second round tie at the majors.
Three other former champions are also in action in the men’s first round.
Argentine sixth seed Juan Martin Del Potro, who defeated Roger Federer for his only major title in 2009, starts against Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez while Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 champion, faces America’s Brian Baker.
Del Potro warmed up for the US Open with a title in Washington and a semi-final run at Cincinnati.
Hewitt, now 32 and at 66 in the world, is playing in New York for the 13th time.
Venus Williams, the 2001 and 2002 women’s champion, faces China’s Zheng Jie.
The third day of the tournament will also see the Grand Slam return of former world number one Martina Hingis, who will play doubles with Daniela Hantuchova.