- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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.

“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.

The 252nd-ranked Stanford All-American beat No. 69 Lucie Hradecka 6-2, 6-4. A 21-year-old from Georgia, Burdette was this year’s NCAA singles runner-up to teammate Nicole Gibbs.

She figured that loss cost her the only chance of making the Open, but she got in as the American woman who earned the most points on the USTA Pro Circuit this summer. Now her next opponent could be Maria Sharapova.

“To end up here at the US Open was a huge surprise,” she said. “I never expected that at the beginning of the summer.”

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