French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova became the first player into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-2 win Wednesday over fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The third-seeded Kuznetsova was completely dominant after taking a 5-1 lead in the first set by breaking Pavlyuchenkova’s first two service games.
She got on top of most rallies with a dominant forehand and had 27 winners against only seven for Pavlyuchenkova.
Kuznetsova, who has two Grand Slam singles championships -- adding the French last year to her win at the 2004 U.S. Open -- has a chance to reach the No. 1 ranking for the first time if she clinches the Australian Open title.
In eight previous trips to Melbourne Park, Kuznetsova has advanced to the quarterfinals twice, including last year when she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams despite being up a set and a break.
This year, the 24-year-old Russian is feeling more confident of winning.
“Yes, definitely, I know all the way how to go -- I’ve done it twice,” Kuznetsova said. “It’s exciting. You always have different motivation at the Grand Slams -- I love to play here.”
No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who lost the U.S. Open final to Kim Clijsters in September, had a 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak.
In other first-round matches carried over from the rain-interrupted opening days, No. 7 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat French wild card Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-2, 6-0, No. 9 Vera Zvonareva beat Kristina Kucova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-0 and No. 16 Li Na of China, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open, beat New Zealander Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-0.
No. 2 Dinara Safina, the 2009 runner-up, had a day match before her Russian compatriot, Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, faces one of the toughest challenges of the first week -- a second-round match against Justine Henin.
Henin, a seven-time Grand Slam winner Henin coming back from 20 months in retirement, is unranked and playing on a wild card in her first major since the 2008 Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, plays Lukas Lacko at Rod Laver Arena later Wednesday. U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro faces James Blake, and No. 5 Andy Murray and No. 7 Andy Roddick also are in action.
Clijsters wins again
U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters has stayed on track for her second straight Grand Slam singles title, beating Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the third round of the Australian Open.
Clijsters won at Flushing Meadows last year in only her third tournament back from retirement after getting married and having a daughter. She fell behind 3-0 in the second set Wednesday before breaking Tanasugarn’s service twice to take a 4-3 lead, then broke again in final game to take the match.
The 15th-seeded Clijsters next plays the winner of a second-round match between Kaia Kanepi and 19th-seeded Nadia Petrova.
Clijsters could face fellow Belgian comeback player Justine Henin, also a former No. 1, in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park.