No. 1 Azarenka beats qualifier Flipkens, Isner battles past Malisse

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Victoria Azarenka looks quite comfortable so far on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows.

She's the world's top-ranked player and the Australian Open champ, but Azarenka has never advanced past the fourth round at the U.S. Open.

No hint of her past struggles in her first two matches this year, though. Azarenka beat qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-2 in 65 minutes in the second round Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, highest-ranked American John Isner let out a big exhale of relief while waving to the crowd after getting past an argumentative Xavier Malisse 6-3, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (9) in a suddenly tight first-round match at the U.S. Open.

The 6-foot-9 Isner hit 20 aces and ended the match with a service winner on his third match point. He was given that last match point when Malisse pushed an easy backhand volley into the net. Malisse grabbed the ball and shoved it in his mouth and chomped on it as though it were an apple.

Seconds later, the No. 9-seeded Isner wrapped up the victory, improving to 37-13 in tiebreakers this season.

Malisse exchanged angry words with spectators and the chair umpire at various points during the match.

Azarenka has lost just five games through her first two matches.

"I don't feel like I have to prove something," Azarenka said.

She hasn't made it beyond the third round as a top-10 seed in each of the last three years. In 2010, she collapsed on court after hitting her head before her second-round match. Last year, seeded fourth, she had the bad luck of drawing 28th-seeded Serena Williams in the third.

"The next match is going to be the usual match for me. I don't have anything that, you know, it's the third round or I have to win that I didn't the last two years," Azarenka said.

So far in 2012, she's lost just five games through her first two matches. Next up is 28th-seeded Zheng Jie of China, who beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-1.

It was another quick, predictable result in a tournament with few upsets or even nail-biters yet.

David Ferrer opened his tournament with a result befitting a top-four seed. Ranked fifth, Ferrer moved up a spot because fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal is out with knee problems. Ferrer beat 34th-ranked Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (3).

It was potentially a tough first-round matchup for Ferrer: Anderson made the third round at Flushing Meadows each of the last two years. But Ferrer was in control throughout, facing just three break points -- all in the third set -- and saving all of them.

"It was not easy match, no, with Anderson," Ferrer said. "He's a really good player. He's very strong first and second serve. I'm happy."

One surprise Wednesday: American wild card Mallory Burdette is through to the third round in her Grand Slam debut.

She beat No. 69 Lucie Hradecka 6-2, 6-4.

In other women's second-round matches, fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova swept Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-3, 15th-seeded Lucie Safarova beat Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, and 19th-seeded Nadia Petrova defeated Simona Halep 6-1, 6-1.

American Varvara Lepchenko, seeded 31st, advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Anastasia Rodionova.

In a men's first-round match, Brian Baker of the U.S. continued his strong 2012, defeating Jan Hajek 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Eighth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic rallied from down two sets to beat 129th-ranked Guillaume Rufin 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in 3 hours, 37 minutes.

Other top players on the court later Wednesday include the third-seeded Sharapova and Andy Murray, along with three-time champ Kim Clijsters.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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