Top seeds Elena Dementieva and Caroline Wozniacki and local hope Marina Erakovic will all feature on centre court today in what promises to be a super Tuesday at the women's Classic.
After a somewhat subdued start yesterday, when Czech sixth seed Nicole Vaidisova's gruelling three-set victory was the highlight, the tournament should kick into top gear today.
World No 12 Wozniacki's match against Italian Alberta Brianti is first up on centre court, followed by Olympic champion and world No 4 Dementieva against Taiwan's Jung-Jan Chan. Erakovic, who takes on Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives, should be on court mid-afternoon.
Organisers will be hoping the bill attracts a bigger crowd than yesterday, when matches were played in front of half-filled stands.
Vaidisova was made to work to earn her place in the second round, overcoming Russian Alla Kudryavtseva in a 2h 37m three-set marathon.
Vaidisova took the first set in a tiebreak (7-3) but dropped the second 6-4. She then stormed to a 4-0 lead in the decider before dropping her serve in the fifth game.
When she staved off five break points to go 5-2 up, the hard-serving Czech looked to finally have the match under control, but Kudryavtseva held for 5-3 and then saved two match points to break for 5-4.
Kudryavtseva held to level at 5-5 and, with both players appearing to tighten up on the big points, a deciding tiebreak looked likely.
But Vaidisova survived a break point to edge ahead 6-5 and a crucial double fault at 0-15 put her within sight of a victory that she closed out with a smoking forehand return from a weak Kudryavtseva second serve.
Vaidisova always looked to have the weapons to win the contest but her booming first serve was erratic and Kudryavtseva stayed in the game thanks to her superior mobility.
It was a far from convincing display by the former top-10 ranked Czech, who admitted she struggled mentally during the third set as Kudryavtseva thought back.
"At 4-0 she kind of relaxed and started hitting her shots," Vaidisova said.
"At 4-2 and 5-2 it started getting tense and obviously you freak out a little bit.
"And it is hard to play when you know you've had two match points on your serve, that is going on in your head, but I tried to hang in there, especially mentally, to not give up and keep on playing."
Her biggest weapon was her booming serve but Vaidisova will need to improve on her 50 per cent success rate if she is to prove a serious threat.
Vaidisova will now face either Russian Elena Vesnina or Japanese qualifier Aiko Nakamura, who are first up on court six today.
Despite 38-year-old wildcard Kimiko Date-Crumm making an early straight sets exit at the hands of Jill Craybas, Japanese interest in the tournament remains strong, with Ayumi Morita also making it through qualifying. Morita defeated Dutch woman Michaela Krajicek in three sets in the final round of qualifying to book a first round date with Poland's Marta Domachowska.
The first match on centre court yesterday was also a three-set affair, with last year's beaten finalist Aravane Rezai defeating Greek wildcard Elani Daniilidou 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Rezai, who defeated Erakovic in last year's semifinal but was thrashed by Lindsay Davenport in the final, was plagued by unforced errors in the second set but found her range in the third to blast past the two-time champion.
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova became the second Czech in the second round, defeating France's Virginie Razzano. Other first round winners included Israel's Shahar Peer and Romania's Edina Gallovits.By Steve Deane Email Steve