Roger Federer and Serena Williams came through their first real tests at the US Open on Saturday with flying colours as the casualty toll at the last grand slam of the year soared to record numbers.
Both former world number ones faced dangerous opponents but survived to fight another day, advancing safely to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.
Their performances were not perfect but still sent an ominous warning to their younger rivals about their intentions to add to their stockpile of major championships.
“As long as I'm in the tournament I know I have a shot and that's what it's about right now,” said Federer, who beat Croatia's Marin Cilic 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“I seriously don't care how I'm playing. I wish I play my best every single time and feel amazing. That's not reality,” he said.
Williams beat fourth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-1, 7-6 but was running on empty by the end.
The pair had been drawn together much earlier than expected because Williams, who has only just returned from a long injury layoff, has slipped down the rankings and was seeded 28th.
Federer will play unseeded Argentine Juan Monaco in the round of 16 on Monday, while Williams faces former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic after she beat American wildcard Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-4.
The two current world number ones, Novak Djokovic and Caroline Wozniacki, both breezed through with straight-set wins on the Arthur Ashe Stadium after overcoming minor problems.
Djokovic beat Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 while Wozniacki produced a methodical 6-2, 6-4 victory over unseeded American Vania King.
Davydenko presented Djokovic with some problems early on but the top seed eventually worked him out and was glad to have been pushed.
“It's the first test I think I had this tournament and it was expected,” Djokovic said. Jelena Jankovic, a finalist at the US Open three years ago, was bundled out 6-4, 6-4 by Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Som faces Lee-Hesh
The men's doubles pre-quarterfinal will be of great interest to Indian fans as Somdev Devvarman and his Filipino partner Treat Conrad Huey will lock horns with veterans Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes after both pairs won their respective second-round matches here.
Somdev and Huey upstaged 14th seeds Argentines Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank 6-3, 6-4.
Fourth seeds Paes and Bhupathi beat German Florian Mayer and Rogier Wassen of the Netherlands 7-6 (5), 6-2 in an 85-minute second-round clash here.
Paes and Bhupathi made a lot of unforced errors but the Indians made it up by sending down five aces besides breaking their rivals thrice.