Venus Williams insisted her bid for a first Australian Open title remained on track despite a shaky second-round win against Frenchwoman Camille Pin.
Williams, a six-time grand slam champion who lost her only Melbourne Park final to sister Serena in 2003, had her serve broken six times by the 77th-ranked Pin but still prevailed 7-5 6-4.
Pin actually served for the first set in the 10th game but had even more trouble holding her serve throughout the match than Williams.
Pin was broken on eight occasions by Williams despite a healthy first-serve percentage of 74 compared to just 61 for the powerful American, who also served six double faults to just one for Pin.
However, Williams, who will next take on India’s talented 31st seed Sania Mirza, said: “To be honest at this point I feel like I know how to play tennis, and whether or not I have my best match or a match that’s not so good for me is not something that worries me for the next round.
“So either way it’s just important for me to get to the next round because I feel like I can always play better.”
Williams said she was not concerned by her serving performance against Pin.
“If I make a few mistakes, I’m not going to freak out,” she said. “Nothing really worries me any more. I feel like I know how to play, I’m fine, I feel good.”
However, Williams said she was wary of her next opponent in Mirza, who reached the third round in Melbourne for the first time since 2005 with a 6-1 4-6 7-5 win over Swiss Timea Bacsinszky.
“I played her a little while ago and she’s a good player,” Williams said. “She tries to play aggressive and looks like she enjoys herself out there.”
Another leading contender for the title, Russian Svetlana Kuzetsova, also had a tougher second-round battle than expected against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, whom she eventually beat 7-6 (7/0) 6-2.
Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open champion whose best performance at the Australian Open was a quarter-final appearance in 2005, came back from a set point down in the first set.
The second seed’s steadiness on serve proved the difference in a close match as she won 70% on her first serve and served only one double fault for the match.
Afterwards Kuznetsova admitted she was disappointed with her performance - despite setting up a third-round meeting with 29th seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who ousted France’s Pauline Parmentier 7-5 6-4.
“I didn’t start well and she was playing pretty good,” said Kuznetsova. “And then I was getting a bit tighter and I still didn’t play my game.
“When I was 5-2 down (in the first set) I felt I’m just not doing the right things but then I just tried to put more balls in play and tried to make the rallies long.”
Slovakia’s ninth seed Daniela Hantuchova advanced to the third round with a 6-2 7-5 win over France’s Alize Cornet while Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova and Spanish veteran Virginia Ruano Pascual also reached the last 32.
Slovenia’s number 28 seed Katarina Srebotnik, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki and Russia’s 14th seed Nadia Petrova are also through.
And two more Russians in Anna Chakvetadze and Maria Kirilenko set up an exciting third-round meeting following easy second-round wins.
The two 20-year-olds both won in straight sets with sixth seed Chakvetadze beating fellow Russian Alisa Kleybanova 6-3 6-4 while 27th seed Kirilenko thrashed Japanese veteran Akiko Morigami 6-1 6-1.