|Kim Clijsters hits a return against Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand in their women's singles second round match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20 (AFP photo)|
MELBOURNE, Jan 20, 2010 (AFP) - Kim Clijsters showed nerves of steel on Wednesday to come through a tough test and make the Australian Open third round alongside Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Other top names also showed their mettle, including Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka and Li Na, who all made the second round as organisers cleared rain-delayed matches held over from Tuesday.
Clijsters only conceded four games against her first round oppenent but she was given a more thorough examination by Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn.
The 26-year-old Belgian, who won the lead-up Brisbane International, eventually triumphed 6-3, 6-3, but it was harder than the score suggested for the 15th seed, now back full time after a break to start a family.
Her serve was broken in each set before she dug deep to dispose of the Thai, playing in her 51st Grand Slam.
Clijsters could meet fellow comeback queen Justine Henin in the quarter-finals, although Henin has a major hurdle to clear in fifth seed Elena Dementieva on Rod Laver Arena later Wednesday.
Unlike the high-profile Clijsters and Henin, Russian third seed Kuznetsova is flying under the radar and looked impressive in her 6-2, 6-2 defeat of countrywoman Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The French Open champion, whose best effort here has been the quarter-finals, said she had prepared well in the off-season and was ready to make an impact.
"I think I've done a good pre-season, I've worked hard and I've enjoyed it," she said.
"I mean, I'm feeling good. I worked on new things."
Fourth seed Wozniacki downed Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak 6-4, 6-2 to get her campaign off to a winning start.
The Dane, who enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2009, winning three titles and finishing runner-up to Clijsters at the US Open, edged a tight first set but overpowered her opponent in the second.
"I had a tough opponent, so I was really happy to get through," she said.
"I was feeling confident on the court and comfortable."
"I'm really happy about the way things are going and I've been practising hard, so I'm really pleased about the way I'm playing."
Belarussian seventh seed Victoria Azarenka blasted her way into the second round by crushing France's Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-2, 6-0, while China's 16th seed Li coasted past New Zealand's Marina Erakovic in straight sets.
Ninth-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva also pushed on deeper into the tournament, sending Slovakia's Kristina Kucova packing 6-2, 6-0.
Maria Sharapova remains the highest profile casualty on the women's side and her Russian conqueror Maria Kirilenko marched into the third round with a 6-3, 6-1 romp against Austria's Yvonne Meusburger.
In the men's draw, 11th seed Fernando Gonzalez was the first man into the third round with his 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 win over Turkey's Marsel Ilhan.
Scot Andy Murray resumes his quest to become the first Briton to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936 when he plays Frenchman Marc Gicquel later Wednesday.
Seventh seed Andy Roddick is also in action against Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, while fourth seed Juan Martin Del Potro, the US Open champion, faces American James Blake.