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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova produced a far stronger second performance at Flushing Meadows with a routine 6-2 6-3 win over Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova Thursday.
Kuznetsova had been taken the distance in her previous match against Japan's Kimiko Date Krumm, but the Russian's biggest challenge against a nervy Sevastova was the heat.
The pair had met just once before, perhaps appropriately at the same stage of the same tournament last year when Kuznetsova won in straight sets.
Thursday's match did not set pulses racing, which was made all the more apparent by the raft of empty blue seats at the Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Sevastova looked overawed by the enormity of the venue and the occasion as she stepped out on court and was in danger of losing her opening service game.
But against the run of play, she held on and broke the subsequent Kuznetsova serve to move into a 2-1 lead.
That was her last lead of the match as number 11 seed Kuznetsova, U.S. Open winner in 2004 and a finalist in 2007, mixed up her play nicely and showed she might be turning into a genuine contender for the title in New York.
Editing by Frank Pingue