Russia's Sharapova, who pulled off a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-1 win over Hungary's Babos, insists rivals still fear her despite prolonged absence from tennis

Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts after winning a point against Hungary’s Timea Babos during the second round of the US Open  at New York on Wednesday. Pic/AFP
Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts after winning a point against Hungary’s Timea Babos during the second round of the US Open  at New York on Wednesday. Pic/AFP

Maria Sharapova made the US Open last 32 on Wednesday, insisting she has instilled renewed fear into her rivals and rekindled the love from her fans.

The former World No. 1 and five-time major winner pulled off a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-1 win over Timea Babos of Hungary, having seen off world number two Simona Halep on Monday.

Wildcard justified
"I think with the way that I played on Monday night, I don't think there are any more questions," said the 30-year-old when pushed on whether her spot in the tournament was justified. The 2006 champion, and guaranteed arena-filler, needed a wild card to play in New York after her prolonged absence from the sport had left her with a world ranking of 146.

"I definitely feel the respect from the athletes," Sharapova insisted. "Certainly when I play against them, in terms of the level they play. That's important to me. I think from a respect level, when you're able to respect your rivals and compatriots, that's really important, and I feel that.

"I've also had an amazing reaction from fans since I've been back, and that's been very special. I felt it while I was away. I felt it in a real presence since I've been back. It's a very special feeling."

Hungarian Timea Babos
Hungarian Timea Babos

Muguruza advances
Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza reached the third round for the first time by defeating China's 92nd-ranked Duan Ying-Ying 6-4, 6-0.

The Spanish third seed can become the woman to beat in a seven-way fight for the world number one ranking by reaching the last 16 with a victory over Slovakian 31st seed Magdalena Rybarikova.

Wozniacki crashes out
Meanwhile, Danish fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki became the fourth Top-10 woman to exit after just two rounds on Wednesday when she lost 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1 to Russia's Ekaterina Makarova. She joins second Simona Halep, defending champion Angelique Kerber and Britain's Johanna Konta in crashing out of the tournament. Makarova, a semi-finalist in 2014, will face Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro for a place in the last 16.