NEW YORK, NY, USA - Facing off for the first time in over a decade, Maria Sharapova and Patty Schnyder put on a Throwback Tuesday for the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd, with Sharapova emerging victorious, 6-2, 7-6(6) at the US Open.
"I started making a lot of mistakes," Sharapova said of a tight second set. "She became really consistent. I think I just really wanted to finish it off, was just giving her a lot of free looks."
In eight previous meetings, Sharapova and Schnyder played six epic three-setters - including one at the 2007 French Open that went to 9-7 in the third - and the former No.1 maintained her edge over the 39-year-old in the midst of a second career, making it through after one hour and 50 minutes on court.
"It all kind of comes back in memory. She still has incredible hands, moves incredibly well for being out of the game for so long, still very competitive. I was just saying it took me, like, 15 years to dropshot Patty Schnyder and win a point. Doesn't happen that often against Patty."
Schnyder became the oldest woman to make it through Grand Slam qualifying on Friday, booking her first main draw appearance in Flushing Meadows since 2010.
Taking time off to retire and give birth to daughter Kim, the two-time US Open quarterfinalist began playing again in 2015, slowly working her way back up the rankings and onto the major stages.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 29, 2018
Sharapova made a thunderous return to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center after three years away last summer, shocking then-World No.2 Simona Halep en route to the second week, maintaining her still-perfect 21-0 record in US Open night sessions.
"I actually didn't grow up enjoying playing or actually being in New York City. It was very intimidating as a teenager. I've really embraced it I believe in the last decade or so. Ever since my victory, I've loved using it. I've learned how to use the energies.
"No matter if you're up or down that the crowd possesses, is able to lift you up or falls hard for the underdog. You feel like there's so many flows within a match from the crowd."
The Russian showed off some of that form on Tuesday night, racing out to a set and 5-1 lead with 19 winners off the ground.
Schnyder put on an impressive fightback from there, leveling the set and forcing a tie-break as the former World No.1 suddenly began to struggle off the ground.
While Sharapova earned three match points at 6-3, the Swiss saved all three only for the No.22 seed to engineer a fourth and seal the match with a searing forehand return winner - her 23rd total for the match.
Up next for the 2006 champion is Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who rallied from 5-3 down in the final set to survive Alison Riske, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
"She's someone that plays extremely aggressive. Sometimes you don't really know what you're going to get in a matchup like that. For me I think just stepping away from who I'm playing, zoning in on what I need to improve on, that will be my focus."