Serena Williams confounded her critics with a dominating display at the Australian Open yesterday but world number one Lindsay Davenport wobbled before booking her third round berth.
Williams, the defending champion, has looked out of shape and out of form in the lead up to the tournament but put in a determined performance against Camille Pin of France, winning 6-3, 6-1 in just 49 minutes.
Many had expected she would struggle in the Melbourne Park heat after enduring jibes about her fitness heading into the first Grand Slam of the year, but she ominously marched on.
"I'm feeling pretty good right now, I'm feeling ready," warned the two-time Australian Open champion, seeded 13, who will next play 17th seed Daniela Hantuchova of the Slovak Republic.
Top seed Davenport, on the same side of the draw and who could meet Williams in the semifinals, initially struggled to assert control in her match against unseeded Croatian Karolina Sprem.
She was taken to a first set tie-break but came back to eventually win 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 and keep alive her hopes of repeating her 2000 tournament win here.
She was happy just to grind out the win.
"Maybe I was just caught a little off guard, but the more aggressive I could be, I felt like the match was in my favor," said Davenport, who next plays Maria Kirilenko, the Russian 21st seed.
"Some days when you don't feel like every shot's going in and you still come through and win against a girl who's playing well then it's a great win."
Hingis has what it takes
Davenport and Williams both hailed Martina Hingis' successful return to the Australian Open and dismissed doubts about her ability to tackle the big hitters of modern tennis.
Davenport said Hingis displayed fine form during her 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Russian Vera Zvonareva on Tuesday as she returned to the scene of her greatest Grand Slam triumphs after a four-year absence.
The top seed said critics had always doubted the diminutive Swiss star's ability against more physically powerful opponents but the 25-year-old had a record of proving them wrong.
"People have always said that about her," Davenport said.
"More than anything, the girl finds a way to win and finds a way to get her opponent uncomfortable - I'm sure she has a way to negate power still."
Williams, the defending champion, said she would always be a threat.
"I thought she played really well," she said of Hingis' opening match. "Everyone can have their dreams, and she's dreaming big, and she should go for any dreams and pursue them to the fullest."
Davenport said it would be interesting to see if Hingis, playing as a wild card, had managed to improve her second serve, which the 29-year-old American identified as the weak point she used to attack when Hingis was in her prime.
"Back then you had to make her feel bad about her second serve because it was the first shot you would get and a shot you could definitely take advantage of," she said.
"If you could attack that, she seemed to lose more and more confidence on it."