Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska joined the big names in the third round of the Japan Open on Wednesday after each faced tough second-round ties.
Former world No. 1 Wozniacki was taken to a tie-break by ex-top ten regular Daniela Hantuchova, but the Dane eventually prevailed 7-6(3), 6-1 to set up a match with eighth seed Li Na.
For Wozniacki, the match was more comfortable than her first-round battle with Serbian qualifier Bojana Jovanovski, which went to a tense decider.
World No. 3 Radwanska faced an imposing opponent in the shape of Jelena Jankovic, but beat the former U.S. Open champion 6-2, 7-5 to extend her winning record against the Serb to 4-1.
She now faces unseeded American Jamie Hampton, who surprised world No. 15 Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.
Agnieszka and Radwanska will meet in the quarterfinals if they win their respective matches.
That would be likely to favor Wozniacki, who has won five of their seven meetings, although Radwanska beat her in Sydney in January on a hard court, the same as in Tokyo.
Earlier, world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka faced little difficulty in the second round of the Japan Open on Tuesday as she demolished Austria’s Tamira Paszek in straight sets.
The Belarusian won 6-1, 6-1, and now faces 14th seed Roberta Vinci in the third round after the Italian recorded a straightforward 6-3, 6-1 win over France’s Pauline Parmentier.
Elsewhere, eighth seed Sam Stosur had a tough time against former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, eventually winning 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 against the veteran, 32.
Stosur next plays Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, who routed China’s Jie Zheng 6-0, 6-3.
Russian world No. 2 Maria Sharapova was pushed to the limit as she beat Britain’s Heather Watson in a three-hour epic in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Sharapova won the Japan Open second-round tie 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-4 in a match that saw the Russian’s serve broken six times.
The Russian’s next opponent is Lucie Safarova, who reached the third-round with a walkover when her opponent Klara Zakopalova withdrew from the tournament.
World No. 5 Petra Kvitova suffered a surprise second-round exit, losing to world No. 73 Petra Martic in straight sets.
Kvitova went down 6-4, 6-4 to Martic in her first match of the tournament after the Czech received a first-round bye.
Martic will now play Russia’s Nadia Petrova in the third round after Petrova defeated Romania’s Simona Halep 7-6(4), 6-0.
Elsewhere, world No. 8 Li Na battled through a tough second-round match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, eventually prevailing 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, and will now play either Caroline Wozniacki or Daniela Hantuchova.
World No. 10 Marion Bartoli moved into the third round with a win over Germany’s Julia Goerges, triumphing 6-2, 7-5, and will now face Sara Errani.
French Open finalist Errani secured her passage to the third round with a 6-3, 7-6(1) win over Johanna Larsson of Sweden.
World No. 15 Kaia Kanepi was knocked out 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 by unseeded American Jamie Hampton, just two days after the Estonian had played in the final of the Korea Open, losing to Wozniacki in Seoul.
Hampton’s next opponent will be either world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska or former U.S. Open champion Jelena Jankovic, who play later Tuesday.
Radwanska’s younger sister Urszula reached the third round with a surprise 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win against Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic, a former French Open champion.
Her next opponent is Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who ended Japanese No. 1 Ayumi Morita’s run with a 6-3, 6-4 win.