Serena Williams made an ominous start to her clay-court season with the French Open on the horizon by seeing off Anna-Lena Friedsam to reach the third round of the WTA Internazionali d'Italia on Tuesday.
The 21-time grand slam champion missed the Madrid Open due to illness last week and has played in only three tournaments in what has been a frustrating year so far.
Williams, also troubled by injury in 2016, set about making up for lost time by brushing aside the unseeded Friedsam 6-4 6-3 to send a message to her rivals in Rome a day after losing in the doubles with her sister Venus.
The world number one, eyeing her first title of the year and a fourth title in the Eternal City and a first this year, looked capable of retaining her title in Roland Garros as she gave Friedsam a lesson in her first match of the year on the red surface.
Eugenie Bouchard was also an impressive winner on day two of the tournament, ousting two-time champion Jelena Jankovic.
Carla Suarez Navarro reached the third round at the expense of Teliana Pereira, while Timea Bacsinszky and Svetlana Kuznetsova made it through to the second round at Foro Italico.
MASTERFUL SERENA HITS THE GROUND RUNNING
Williams has endured a frustrating year so far, but Friedsam felt the force of the top seed under the lights. The legendary American had too much power and also produced some delicate winners to move into round three with apparent ease.
Ana Ivanovic or Christina McHale will face Williams in the third round. Williams was due to face McHale at the same stage last year, but the three-time champion retired from the tournament with an elbow injury.
MORE WOE FOR JANKOVIC
Jankovic was playing in only her second tournament on clay this year due to a shoulder injury and the former world number one suffered another early exit after crashing out of the Madrid Open at the round of 62 last week.
Sorana Cirstea accounted for the Serbian in Madrid and it was Bouchard who knocked her out in Rome, winning 6-4 2-6 6-3 to set up a match against Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.
Jankovic, the 2007 and 2008 Internazionali d'Italia champion, said: "I think I'm still on that journey of trying to be the best player I can be. I feel like I have been working hard every single day and I feel like I have good guidance. I'm on the right path."
BACSINSZKY AMONG SEEDS TO SAIL THROUGH
Bacsinszky underlined why she has returned to the top 10 in the world rankings by coasting to a 6-2 6-2 victory over Yanina Wickmayer.
Svetlana Kuznetsova was another seed to reach round two, beating Caroline Garcia of France 7-5 6-4. Daria Gavrilova, a semi-finalist in Rome last year, beat Sabine Lisicki in straight sets.