Top seed Andy Roddick continued his steady buildup to this month's Australian Open with a workmanlike 7-6, 6-3 second round win over Australian Carsten Ball at the Brisbane International on Wednesday.
The World No 7, playing his first tournament since a knee injury cut short his 2009 season, saved a set point before winning the opener in a tiebreak then snatched the second with a single break of serve.
Roddick's fellow American James Blake saved three match points and recovered from a service break down in the deciding third set to defeat Frenchman Marc Gicquel 6-3 3-6 7-6 in a much tighter match on the Pat Rafter centre court.
"I was not going to let him beat me. You play your best when you have that clear mindset," said Blake, who also won his first round match in three sets.
"I would prefer to win in two and two but it is good to get some tough match-ups in the lead-up to a Grand Slam."
Czech Radek Stepanek also survived a close shave before beating Ukranian qualifier Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr 5-7, 7-6, 6-2 to keep alive his Brisbane title defence.
In the women's event, Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova brushed aside the challenge of Hungary's Agnes Szavay 6-3 6-1 while unseeded Czech Lucie Safarova disposed of Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3 6-1 to join Kim Clijsters in Thursday's semi-finals.
Clijsters' fellow Belgian Justine Henin, playing her first official tournament since coming out of retirement, was scheduled to play Kazakhstan's Sesil Karatantcheva in Wednesday's night session.