(CNN)While another high-profile women's seed exited at the French Open, the biggest name of them all only just survived.
French Open 2015: Serena Williams survives but pal Wozniacki exits
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Twelve months after Serena Williams lost in the second round at Roland Garros, the American needed to rally to avoid the same fate at her least productive grand slam.
Whereas Williams fell last year to a young Spaniard, Garbine Muguruza, the world No. 1 trailed a young German, Anna-Lena Friedsam, by a set Thursday.
But Williams benefited from the 21-year-old's inexperience and then raised her game in the third set to prevail 5-7 6-3 6-3.
"I know my level is literally 100 times better than I played today, so I think I take more solace in the fact I can play better as opposed to the fact that that's the best I could play," Williams told reporters. "Then I would be in trouble."
Her good pal, Caroline Wozniacki, wasn't as fortunate and joined Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard on the sidelines.
Two former French Open champions in the twilight of their careers, meanwhile, produced another grand slam marathon, Francesca Schiavone outlasting Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (11) 7-5 10-8 in nearly four hours.
Williams may own an apartment in Paris and speak French, but home comforts haven't translated into success -- at least relatively speaking -- on the red clay in Paris. Of her 19 grand slam triumphs, two have come in the French capital.
The slower conditions help to nullify Williams' weapons and her movement isn't as fluid. The 33-year-old simply doesn't appear as confident on the clay.
Williams' biggest weapon, her serve, wasn't working in the first two sets against 105th-ranked Friedsam. She struck eight double faults and faced 13 break points. An elbow injury that forced Williams to withdraw during a tournament in Rome is still taking its toll, she said. Unsurprisingly, her overall game suffered.
In the third set, however, the serve came to life and Williams wasn't broken.
"I'm not hitting (the serve) as normal as I want to and with as much confidence as I normally do," Williams said. "So I'm just trying to play that into my game right now. I'm not using it so much as a weapon. Hopefully it will get better."
Williams will likely need to be sharp from the outset in the third round when meeting Victoria Azarenka. The two-time Australian Open winner held three match points on Williams at the Madrid Open this month, eventually falling in a third-set tiebreak.
Even though clay isn't Wozniacki's preferred surface, the fifth seed must have had high hopes of reaching the second week -- at least -- after making the final of a prestigious clay-court event in Stuttgart in April.
The Dane had even beefed up her clay-court game by briefly working with three-time French Open champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.
Yet missed opportunities and the power game of 72nd-ranked Julia Goerges led to a 6-4 7-6 (4) defeat.
"I had like a million chances, especially in the first set," said Wozniacki, who went 3-for-13 on break points. "I didn't take them. In the second set I managed to come back again, and again, I didn't take my chances. When you don't, you get punished."
Wozniacki enjoyed a rebirth in tennis last year, landing in a first grand slam final in five years before losing to Williams at the U.S. Open.
But Thursday's exit means she has failed to advance past the second round at both majors in 2015.
Goerges, conversely, enjoys playing on clay and made her breakthrough in 2011 by defeating Wozniacki in the Stuttgart finale.
Once considered a rising star, a serious wrist injury contributed to the German's slide in the rankings. Goerges will be expected to progress further in Paris, given her third-round foe is unseeded American Irina Falconi.
Kuznetsova and Schiavone won the French Open in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and in 2011 took part in the longest women's grand slam singles match in history at four hours, 44 minutes. On that day at the Australian Open it was Kuznetsova who prevailed 16-14 in the third.
Kuznetsova had Thursday's match on her racket, too, but was unable to serve it out four times. Schiavone even saved a match point with an audacious backhand winner down the line.
Not many would have predicted a Schiavone victory, since the 34-year-old Italian had only won one match since the middle of March while Kuznetsova made the final of the Madrid Open to earn a seeding of 18th at Roland Garros.
"Doesn't matter where I am, doesn't matter the score," Schiavone, nicknamed the "Lioness," told reporters. "Everything is a present for me now. So I'm living like this. That's all. I'm here, third round, and I keep going in my way."
For a while it appeared as if another elite women's seed, Petra Kvitova, would depart.
The two-time Wimbledon champion, however, rallied to beat clay-court specialist Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-2 in a second consecutive three-setter for the Czech.
As some of the leading women made hard work in progressing at Roland Garros, the two men's favorites, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, continued to roll along.
Nine-time champion Nadal surely got a confidence boost after his 6-4 6-3 6-1 win over the clay-court savvy Nicolas Almagro.
Showing little signs of the self-doubt affecting him lately, Nadal struck 31 winners and made a mere 16 unforced errors against his fellow Spaniard to set up a clash against Russian Andrey Kuznetsov. One forehand winner down the line late in the first set even drew a smile from Almagro.
Djokovic also won in straight sets, 6-1 6-1 6-4 against Gilles Muller, but the main talking point turned out to be the Serb's medical timeout in the second set for a hip issue.
It's not a good sign for the world No. 1 as he attempts to dethrone Nadal, but he played down concerns ahead of his next match against 19-year-old Australian debutant Thanasi Kokkinakis, who upset 27th-seeded compatriot Bernard Tomic -- winning the fifth-set decider 8-6.
"Thankfully it's nothing major, it's going to be fine," Djokovic told reporters. "I think the heavier conditions made the court a little bit more wet and it was pretty slippery.
"I made a couple of slides that were quite, I'd say, unusual, with change of directions. And it jammed the hip a little bit."
Kokkinakis, whose only previous grand slam appearances were two second-round defeats in Melbourne, saved three match points as he became the first teen to reach the third round at Roland Garros since Ernests Gulbis in 2008.
He was later joined by 18-year-old Croatian Borna Coric, who upset veteran Spanish 18th seed Tommy Robredo in five sets.
Coric, who next plays American Jack Sock, has been working with Swedish coach Thomas Johansson -- a former Australian Open champion -- and training with Djokovic this year. He already boasts victories over Nadal and Andy Murray in the past 12 months.
"I like Coric and how he approaches the matches," Djokovic said of the world No. 46. "He has a very mature mindset for somebody that is only 18.
"He does remind me of myself a little bit at that age. He's a great fighter, very solid from the baseline, both sides. He's improving his serve, I have seen."
Third seed Murray became the first member of the men's "Big Four" to drop a set, although he cruised in the end 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-1 against Portugal's Joao Sousa.
The Scot, seeking his first French Open title after beating Nadal in this month's Madrid final, will next play 29th seed Nick Kyrgios.
The 20-year-old Australian, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last year and then again at home in January, was gifted his first third-round outing in three trips to Paris when Britain's Kyle Edmund pulled out with an injury.