Jelena Jankovic was happy to get her first match out of the way Thursday in the Family Circle Cup. The No. 2 seed and 2007 champion rolled past American Lauren Davis, 6-0, 6-3, and with two-time defending champion Serena Williams out of the tournament, looks to be the favorite.
"I don't think about that," said Jankovic, who played the final singles match Wednesday. "It was my first match on clay (this year). I didn't know what to expect. I thought the conditions were a little slower. The ball was not coming off my racquet as fast as I expected. I did pretty well the first set. Lauren started playing better in the second set (winning the first two games). It was a tough match. I'm glad to be able to win.
"Just being there and handling myself and then everything. So I'm glad I was able to win and looking forward to my next round."
Jankovic, who lost to Serena Williams in the final of the 2013 Family Circle Cup, faces Ajla Tomljanovic in Thursday's fourth singles match.
Former champion Venus Williams used her powerful serve and big forehand to rally from 5-3 down in the first set for a 7-5, 7-5 win over veteran Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa. Williams also came back from love-40 while serving at 5-5 in the first set, then watched as Scheepers netted four balls to practically hand the 33-year-old the decisive 12th game of the set.
"Playing all of the tight matches lately . . . I'm just more focused when I'm behind," Venus explained.
But it's still "hard to be aggressive with your feet and run down all of the balls" for the entire match, she said.
Venus' win set up a Thursday showdown with 20-year-old sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada. Former champion Samantha Stosur of Australia will play the 7 p.m. night match against No. 9 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.
American Sloane Stephens, the No. 5 seed, fell to Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 6-4, 6-4.
American Madison Keys, the 15th seed and the second-highest ranked teenager in the world at No. 36, fell out of the tournament in a 6-1, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4) loss to China's Shuai Peng, the No. 1 doubles player in the world.
The player someone will have to beat to keep her from taking the title in this $710,000 event probably doesn't need any help on clay, but nonetheless third-seeded clay-court specialist Sara Errani of Italy received a small gift in the second round when qualifier Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands retired with a lower back injury after dropping the first set, 6-3, to the 2012 French Open runner-up.
Fourth seed and 2009 champion Sabine Lisicki of Germany found her bearings on a stadium court she loves just in time to outlast American Vania King, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
"I was really nervous because I wanted to play well," Lisicki said. "I got tight in the beginning, and second set as well and angry.
"In the third set I told myself, 'Why? I love the game so much, and I should just keep enjoying it.' And so I relaxed and then it went better."
It was King's eighth consecutive main draw appearance and fifth second round on Daniel Island, matching her best results here.
Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova, the 12th seed who eliminated Charleston's Shelby Rogers in the first round, breezed past American qualifier Grace Min, 6-2, 6-3, on an outside court.
Elena Vesnia of Russia, the 13th seed, rallied for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic.
Seventeen-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland is the last qualifier left in the main draw. After upsetting 10th seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia in the opening round, Bencic marched to her fourth straight victory and into Thursday's round of 16 with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Marina Erakovic of New Zealand.
Germany's Andrea Petkovic, the No. 14 seed, tossed the only shutout, blanking Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain, 6-0, 6-0. Shuai Zhang of China, the No. 16 seed, fell to Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.
No. 3 Sara Errani def. Kiki Bertens, 6-3, retired
Shuai Peng def. No. 15 Madison Keys 6-1, 6-7, 7-6
No. 4 Sabine Lisicki def. Vania King, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
Elina Svitlolina def. No. 5 Sloane Stephens, 6-4, 6-4
No. 13 Elena Vesnina def. Petra Cetkovska, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
No. 12 Daniela Hantuchova def. Grace Min, 6-2, 6-3
No. 3 Sara Errani def. Kiki Bertens, 6-3, ret. injury
No. 11 Venus Williams def. Chanelle Scheepers, 7-5, 7-5
No. 14 Andrea Petkovic def. Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 6-0, 6-0
Belinda Bencic def. Marina Erakovic, 6-2, 6-1
Ajla Tomljanovic def. Shuai Zhang, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3
Anabel Medina Garrigues-Yaroslava Shvedova def. Eugenie Bouchard-Taylor Townsend, 6-7, 6-3, 10-7
Hao-Ching Chan-Yung-Jan Chan def. Kveta Peschke-Lucie Safarova, 6-4, 6-4
Alla Kudryavtseva-Anatasia Rodionova def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni-Nadia Petrova, 6-2, 2-6, 10-3
Raquel Kops-Jones-Abigail Spears vs. Jamila Gajdosova-Saisai Zheng (n)
Thursday's Stadium Court Schedule
Sara Errani vs. Shuai Peng
Eugenie Bouchard vs. Venus Williams
Andrea Petkovic vs. Sabine Lisicki
Jelena Jankovic def. Ajla Tomljanovic
Not before 7 p.m.
Samantha Stosur vs. Lucie Safarova
Sorana Cirstea-Maria Kirilenko vs. Hao-Ching Chan-Yung-Jan Chan