American James Blake has advanced to the third round of the Australian Open tennis tournament with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over countryman Alex Kuznetsov.

The fifth seeded Blake overcame a shaky start against Kuzetsov Thursday, losing his serve twice in the opening set, but eventually dispatched of his opponent in just one hour and 21 minutes. The winner of last week's Sydney International tournament is seeking his first Grand Slam title in Melbourne, where he has never gone beyond the fourth round.

Meanwhile, Britain's Andy Murray advanced to the third round after beating Spain's Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 7-5, 6-4, while native star Lleyton Hewitt struggled to beat Canadian Frank Dancevic 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Third-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko enjoyed a 6-4, 6-0, 6-3 victory over Gilles Muller of Luxembourg to advance.

On the women's side, top seeded Maria Sharapova needed just 58 minutes to trounce fellow Russian Anastassia Rodionova 6-0, 6-3 to reach the third round.

Earlier, Kim Clijsters of Belgium enjoyed an easy 6-3, 6-0 win over Akiko Morigami of Japan, while Switzerland's Martina Hingis had a 6-2, 6-2 win over Russian Alla Kudryavtseva.

Light rain caused delays on outside courts, with matches held up nearly two hours.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.