Brisbane:Former world number one Justine Henin's comeback gathered pace on Wednesday with a hard fought 6-4, 6-3 win over Sesil Karatantcheva in the second round of the Brisbane International.
Henin remains on track to meet fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters in the women's final but she will need to lift several notches if she is to trouble the reigning US Open champion.
After downing second seed Nadia Petrova in the first round, Henin was expected to crush the colourful qualifier from Kazakhstan, via Bulgaria.
However she struggled initially and found it hard to quell the challenge of a determined and aggressive Karatantcheva.
Henin was forced to fight back from early breaks in both sets and despite the Belgian being in control for most of the match, Karatantcheva always seemed in with a chance.
By contrast, Clijsters has demolished both her opponents in this tournament -- Tathiana Garbin and Alicia Molik -- and is playing almost mistake-free tennis.
Henin explained that she was simply rusty after being away from the game for 20 months.
"It was a night game so we had different conditions (from the first round)," she said.
"Playing in the evening, waiting all day long, I'm not used to that so it took me a few games to get into the match.
"I wasn't aggressive enough, but it's a question of rhythm and being used to playing these types of matches."
And the 27-year-old former world number one remained upbeat about her performances so far this week.
"It's only my second match and the fact that I won and I have another opportunity to play a third match tomorrow (against Melinda Czink) gives me a lot of confidence," she said, adding there was still room for improvement.
"I think I realised on the court at some points, especially in the second set that I had to be more offensive, more going to the net and I did that when had to.
Henin said there were no second thoughts about coming out of retirement to rejoin the daily grind of the professional tour.
"It's great being back on the court and of course every match is important and every point is different," she said.
"I'm so happy being out there and that's what I remember now -- I feel no pressure now.
Earlier in the day the Czech republic's Lucie Safarova booked a quarter-final against Clijsters when she beat Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak in straight games.
Safarova was untroubled in her 6-3, 6-1 romp over the eighth-seeded Canadian and said she was looking forward to her first meeting with Clijsters.
"She's a great player -- I will go out and give it my best," Safarova said.
"Usually my game is very aggressive so I'm going to try and get to the forehand first and try to push her first because that's the only way (to beat her)."
Third seed Daniela Hantuchova, who is seeded to meet Clijsters in the semi-finals, was also impressive in a 6-3, 6-1 win over Agnes Szavay of Hungary.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova set up a quarter-final against Ana Ivanovic after she beat Italian Roberta Vinci 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.