Second seed Jelena Jankovic and former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova had to work much harder than expected to shake off their opponents in the second round of the US Open on Wednesday.
Serb Jankovic squandered a match point in the second set before scraping past Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-3, 6-7, 7-5 and Russian Kuznetsova overcame a slow start to beat Romanian teenager Sorana Cirstea 7-6, 6-1.
Olympic champion Elena Dementieva, however, had no complaints about not playing to her potential after completing a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Pauline Parmentier of France.
Jankovic, who reached the last four at the US Open in 2006, needed two hours and 45 minutes to subdue the 63rd-ranked Arvidsson on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
The 23-year-old Serb twice served for the match in the second set and also led 3-0 in the tiebreak before the Swede pegged her back with a series of stinging groundstrokes.
Kuznetsova, who clinched the 2004 title in an all-Russian final with Dementieva, trailed world number 53 Cirstea 4-2 in the opening set before raising the level of her own game.
Eighth-seeded Vera Zvonareva became the latest casualty at Flushing Meadows, losing 6-3, 6-3 to Tatiana Perebiynis of Ukraine, while 1998 champion Lindsay Davenport needed to rely on her greater wealth of experience to steer past Russian teenager Alisa Kleybanova 7-5, 6-3.
Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic, beaten in last year’s final by Roger Federer, survived an injury scare before beating Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the men’s event.
The Australian Open champion appeared to turn his left ankle midway through the third set but recovered to wrap up victory in just under two hours.
Fifth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko made even smoother progress, charging into the second round with a comfortable 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela.
In the final match of the night session, big-serving local favourite Andy Roddick, the 2003 champion, powered down 15 aces to ease past Frenchman Fabrice Santoro 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. “I was really excited about the way I was playing and glad with the way I served because I haven’t been serving that well,” the eighth-seeded American said.