ROME – Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and defending champion Maria Sharapova won in straight set Tuesday to reach the third round of the Italian Open.
Kvitova overcame eight double-faults to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 7-5, 6-4 in her opening match. Kvitova struggled in the bright sunshine at Foro Italico but still managed to dictate play with her attacking game.
"I didn't feel very well and so I am happy I won, and I know where there is space where I can improve before the next round," she said.
Sharapova held off a strong challenge from Christina McHale, beating the American 7-5, 7-5. Venus Williams eliminated Simona Halep of Romania 6-3, 6-4.
"It was different than last week," Williams said, referring to the experimental blue surface in Madrid, where she lost in the second round. "I sort of had to make some adjustments to get used to this court.
"It was kind of windy and with the shadows it was kind of tough to see the ball and it made it very difficult and so I was happy that I finished it well," Williams added.
Two-time champion Jelena Jankovic lost 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4) to Sorana Cirstea of Romania.
Among the men on the red clay courts, fourth-ranked Andy Murray downed David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 after taking last week off with a bad back. Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated 13th-seeded Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-3 to improve to 3-0 against the Frenchman.
In other matches, sixth-seeded David Ferrer beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-6 (3); 10th-seeded Juan Martin del Potro ousted Michael Llodra of France 7-5, 3-6, 6-4; and 14th-seeded Juan Monaco routed Romanian qualifier Adrian Ungur 6-2, 6-2.
Marcel Granollers of Spain beat 15th-seeded Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4, and 16th-seeded Richard Gasquet eliminated Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-1, 7-6 (6).
In the night session, top-ranked Novak Djokovic faces rising Australian teenager Bernard Tomic and Serena Williams meets Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.