Rome: Past and present Wimbledon winners Maria Sharapova and Czech Petra Kvitova made straight-set moves into the third round of the Rome Masters on Tuesday, with the Russian second seed made to work hard.
Defending Rome champion Sharapova, who won her Wimbledon title aged 17 in 2004, needed nearly two and a quarter hours to get past 36th-ranked American Christina McHale 7-5, 7-5.
Kvitova, the fourth seed who claimed the grass honours last summer, accounted for Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-4 in sunny, breezy conditions with spring pollen swirling through the air at the Foro Italico.
The shy Kvitova admitted that she is still trying to find her feet on clay despite making a Stuttgart semi-final last month against Sharapova, the tournament champion.
"I have to say that I was nervous before the match because I saw how she was preparing and I lost my last match against her," the Czech said of Pavlyuchenkova.
"I didn't feel so comfortable, so I'm happy I won, I know where there is space to improve before the next round.
"I'm still learning on this surface. You cannot be two metres behind the baseline. I must move forward and play my aggressive game."
Sharapova won on five of eight break point chances against McHale, who broke three times.
In the first round, two seeds went out as Sorona Cirstea of Romania upset former number one, 2007-2008 winner and 15th seed Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4).
Italy's Flavia Pennetta, whose 2006 quarter-final was her best showing at home, beat Russian 16th seed Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 7-6 (7/2).