The 23-year-old Russian glamour girl powered past Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-2, sending out a warning that she is capable of winning for a second time at Flushing Meadows, four years after her first title.
“Last year here, the position I was in, I was trying to see where my game was, so it’s nice to be back on the court and not having to worry about anything other than trying to win,” she said.
The win sets her up nicely for a possible showdown with top seed and runner-up here last year, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, in the fourth round.
First though, she must overcome 18-year-old American wildcard Beatrice Capra in Saturday’s third round.
Wozniaci powered her way into the third round by handing out a 6-0, 6-0 thrashing to Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen.
It was an impressive performance by the 20-year-old Dane, a surprise finalist here last year who, in the space of the last 12 months, has established herself among the elite in the sport.
She needed just 47 minutes to record her 11th straight win, which includes back-to-back titles in Montreal and New Haven, her third and fourth of the year, the most of any woman.
In two matches at Flushing Meadows, she has lost just two games.
“I go out there and I don’t give up. I don’t give any free points away and that is one of my strong points,” said Wozniacki of her merciless display against Chang.
“I am feeling fresh, all recovered (from an ankle injury), from everything. I am happy to be playing injury-free. It’s perfect.”
Wozniacki will play another Taiwanese player, Chan Yung-Jan, for a place in the fourth round and a possible match against Sharapova.
Chan advanced to the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in 17 attempts when she defeated Austria’s Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-3.
The previous best for the 21-year-old from Taipei had been second-round appearances at the Australian Open in 2009, at Wimbledon this year and here in 2008.
She was in command from the start against Paszek, once touted as a budding star of tennis, but who has struggled with injuries over the last two years.
“I was not 100 percent in my first match and was missing the easy ball,” Chan said. “But that was better today and I am looking to play even better from now on in.”
The prospect of playing the top seed Wozniacki was not awesome, she said, as they had known each since they were juniors and had played several times.
“Also I love playing on the big courts,” she added.
Also through to the third round in early play Thursday was Russian seventh seed Vera Zvonareva, who eased past Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-1, 7-6 (7/5), and semi-finalist here last year Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who beat Julia Gorges of Germany 6-4, 7-5.
Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder used her experience to outplay Spanish 22nd seed Maria Jose Martinez 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 and she will next play Wickmayer for a place in the fourth round.
Also through was 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia who breezed past Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 6-3 and fourth seed, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, who edged past Mirjana Lucic of Croatia 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
There was an upset on the Grandstand Court though as the unheralded Capra ousted French 18th seed Aravane Rezai 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.
Capra is making her debut in a WTA Tour tournament, and was the youngest player remaining in the women’s draw and also the lowest-ranked at 371.
“A year ago I was playing the juniors here. I’ve been playing mostly the juniors tournaments the entire year and concentrating on that. I played a couple of pro circuit events and one okay, but its been mostly juniors,” she said.
Playing Sharapova she said would be “an amazing experience.”