Top-ranked Justine Henin, who skipped the last Australian Open because she was going through a divorce and had to default in the 2006 final because of a stomach illness, needed four match points to clinch Wednesday's 6-1, 7-5 win over Russian Olga Poutchkova. She was broken at love when serving the for the match at 5-3, then set up double match point with a curling forehand winner in the next game before Poutchkova ran off four points to level at 5-all. That's when Henin, who has lost only once since May, shifted gears.
The 25-year-old Belgian star held at love for 6-5 and then, with Poutchkova only a point from forcing a tiebreaker, won three straight points to pressure the 20-year-old Russian. Poutchkova gave Henin another match point with a double-fault and then sent a forehand long.
Henin was circumspect, despite having her service broken three times in a swirling breeze in the second set.
"I played a very good first set, then I lost some intensity," Henin said. "She took her chances. It was tough at the end." The pair had never met, but Henin knew what to expect. "I never like to play a player I don't know that much. They always go for it, they're playing the No. 1 player in the world so they've got nothing to lose and I know it."
Henin, who won the French and U.S. Opens and season-ending championship last season after skipping the Australian Open, has not lost a match since her semifinal upset to Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon.
She next faces 25th seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Germany's Angelique Kerber.
Patty Schnyder, seeded 15th and a semifinalist here in 2004, went down to Australia's Casey Dellacqua 4-6 7-5 8-6.
On the men's side, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga followed his opening-round upset over No. 9 Andy Murray by hitting 54 winners and 14 aces in a 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over American Sam Warburg. No. 24 Jarkko Nieminen of Finland beat Jesse Levine 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (2).
Rafael Nadal, the only player to beat Roger Federer in the last 10 Grand Slams in the last two French Open finals plays Florent Serra and No. 6 Andy Roddick takes on Michael Berrer later Wednesday.
Women's champion Serena Williams, unseeded and ranked No. 81 when she beat top-seeded Maria Sharapova in last year's final, was to play China's Yuan Meng.
No. 5 Sharapova has the toughest second-round match of the highly ranked players, facing 2000 Australian champion Lindsay Davenport in the night match on center court.
Davenport is in her first Grand Slam and only fifth tournament since returning to the tour following the birth last June of her son, Jagger. She has a 19-1 record with three titles in that time, but needed three sets to beat Italy's Sara Errani in the first round.
On Tuesday night, things turned violent among spectators during a match between Greece's Konstantinos Economidis and seventh-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, last year's losing finalist. Tournament officials said play was interrupted for five minutes while police subdued three people with pepper spray. Three were evicted and banned for the remainder of the tournament.