Fifth seed Simona Halep powered past Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-4 to progress to the third round of the US Open on Thursday.
The Romanian arrived in New York determined to challenge for major silverware once more; while she has won three titles this year, she has struggled at the grand slams, with a best showing of a quarter-final berth at Wimbledon. If early signs in New York are anything to go by, she could be in contention for the title come the second weekend of play.
Halep and Safarova struggled to hold serve in the first set as the fifth seed broke Safarova twice to go 3-0 up before the Czech brought herself level at 3-3. Halep would not be denied though as she broke her opponent twice more to capture the first set.
It was a similar story in the second set, with a host of breaks seeing the pair level at 3-3 before Halep took control when it mattered most and ended Safarova's challenge with a break in the 10th game.
— WTA (@WTA) September 1, 2016
Halep will take on Timea Babos in the third round after the 31st seed defeated Richel Hogenkamp 6-2, 6-4.
Sixth seed Venus Williams did not face much of a challenge in her match against Julia Goerges as she triumphed 6-2, 6-3.
Williams, who last won the US Open since 2001, has enjoyed a resurgence in form as of late, reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon – where she won the doubles title with sister Serena – and claiming four WTA Tour titles in less than two years.
Tenth seed Karolina Pliskova also advanced to the third round after beating Montserrat Gonalez 6-1, 7-5.
There were also wins for 17th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Johanna Larsson, Ana Konjuh and Yaroslava Shvedova.