Melbourne:US Open champion Kim Clijsters remained on course for her second straight Grand Slam singles title with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Tamarine Tanasugarn on Wednesday to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
Clijsters won the last six games after dropping serve to open the second set against the 32-year-old Thai veteran who was playing in her 51st major.
The 26-year-old Clijsters won at Flushing Meadows in September in only her third tournament back from two years off the tour in which she got married and had a baby.
No. 15-ranked Clijsters improved to 20 wins and three losses since her comeback, a run in which she became the first mother to win a major since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.
She beat former No. 1-ranked Justine Henin for the title at the Brisbane International on Jan. 9 in what was Henin's comeback tournament after 20 months off the tour.
The Belgian pair will stay on track to meet in the quarterfinals here if Henin can get past Olympic champion Elena Dementieva later Wednesday. Clijsters has reached the semifinals or better in her last four trips to Melbourne Park, losing the 2004 final to Henin.
French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was first into the third round when she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-2.
She broke Pavlyuchenkova's serve twice to start and got on top of most rallies with a strong forehand and had 27 winners against only seven for her fellow Russian.
Kuznetsova, who has two Grand Slam singles championships _ adding the French last year to her win at the 2004 U.S. Open _ has a chance to reach the No. 1 ranking for the first time if she clinches the Australian Open title.
In eight previous trips to Melbourne Park, Kuznetsova has advanced to the quarterfinals twice, including last year when she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams after being up a set and a break.
This year, the 24-year-old Russian is feeling more confident of winning.
"Yes, definitely, I know all the way how to go _ I've done it twice," Kuznetsova said. "It's exciting. You always have different motivation at the Grand Slams _ I love to play here."
Maria Kirilenko, who upset 2008 champion Maria Sharapova in the first round, moved into the third round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Yvonne Meusburger of Austria, while No. 11 Marion Bartoli advanced 6-4, 6-4 over Sandra Zahlavova.
Britain's Elena Baltacha equaled her best run at the season's first major by reaching the third round with a 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 30 Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine. Baltacha could meet No. 2 Dinara Safina in the next round. Safina, losing finalist here last year, was playing later Wednesday.
No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who lost the U.S. Open final to Clijsters in September, had a 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.
In other first-round matches carried over from the rain-interrupted opening day, No. 7 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat French wild card Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-2, 6-0, No. 9 Vera Zvonareva beat Kristina Kucova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-0 and No. 16 Li Na of China, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open, beat New Zealander Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-0.
No. 22 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and No. 29 Shahar Peer of Israel also advanced.
Rafal Nadal, the defending champion, played Lukas Lacko at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday. US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro faced James Blake, and No. 5 Andy Murray and No. 7 Andy Roddick also are in action.