NEW YORK (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova will be back in the U.S. Open spotlight on Wednesday hoping she can come up with a winning encore to her electrifying first round victory over second seed Simona Halep.
Topping that three-set thriller will prove a challenge and the former world number one, playing her first grand slam since returning from a 15-month doping ban, will be happy with a win of any sort against Timea Babos.
On paper the Hungarian should not present the same level of threat Sharapova faced in Halep but the five-time grand slam winner will be venturing into unknown against the world number 59.
“We’ve never played against each other, on the tour that is rare and it will be interesting,” said Sharapova.
“She is a big hitter, a big server and a little different of a game.”
Sharapova will be the centre court headliner on a busy day as officials scramble to clear up a backlog of matches created by a steady rain on Tuesday, when just five matches were completed and 64 postponed.
It will be Canada Day on Arthur Ashe Stadium with crowd favourite Eugenie Bouchard taking on Russian Evgeniya Rodina to open the day and teenage sensation Denis Shapovalov wrapping up the action against seasoned Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Venus Williams will carry her family standard out onto the main showcourt against Oceane Dodin, while 2009 men’s champion Juan Martin del Potro will try to recapture some Flushing Meadows magic in his first round match against Henri Laaksonen.
After also seeing his first round match washed out by rain on Tuesday, Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios will open his account against compatriot John Millman on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Reporting by Steve Keating in New York. Editing by Nick Mulvenney