NEW YORK On a Thursday packed with action and potential signposts for the future, there was a space at the U.S. Open reserved for restoring calm, maybe even preserving the status quo, if only for a little while.
That space was between the service lines at Arthur Ashe Stadium on a sun-splashed day that cast a rosy glow on two old hands hoping their glory years would include this one.
First came Serena Williams' turn, which did not last long: an efficient 1 hour, 9 minutes spent dismissing Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-0. Their match had been crowded into the Ashe Stadium schedule because of Wednesday's rain, but Williams took little time dismissing the idea that the disruption would go any further.
"I think Galina played really well, especially in the first set," Williams said. "She was hitting winners all over the place. Overall though, I think I did pretty well. I'm going to have to think about what I can do better."
With that shrug, she left the stadium to Roger Federer, wearing the uncomfortable label of superstar-in-decline, his once fearsome game showing cracks even in his straight-set victory in the first round. But against Carlos Berlocq of Argentina, Federer summoned the Federer of old.
He played his 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 victory without so much as a grimace. He even felt plucky enough in the second set, leading 4-1 at the time, to try one of his audacious between-the-legs shots. It did not work he lost the point but the overall point was made. There would be no reason to worry about him for another day.
"Right now, it's about winning for me, trying to gain confidence, enjoying myself," Federer said. "Some guys just want to play well. I'm more of a results guy. I hope I can progress. We'll see how it goes."
For most of the match, Federer played with ease, sliding shots off the net cord as if he planned them that way and turning innocent backhands into mean, slicing winners. With that, Federer advanced to the third round, questions of the future put off for another day.
He was asked afterward if he was peeking ahead at all, with Rafael Nadal lurking in his quarter of the draw. He joked that he had no idea he could play Nadal, then laughed.
"I'm very well aware of what's going on," he said. "Right now, I'm trying to focus round by round. The worst mistake I can make is to focus on Rafa now. I'd love a matchup with Rafa, but to do that, I need to keep playing good tennis."
Ashe Stadium had featured an upset earlier in the day, the biggest of the tournament so far. The drama was all on the shoulders of Sara Errani, the No. 4 seed, who had the chore of playing friend and fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta.
Errani's biggest opponent is herself these days. After looking helpless in a 6-3, 6-1 loss, she admitted she had been struggling to deal with the pressure that came with her new perch among the world's best players. She is ranked No. 5 and was seeded one place higher because of Maria Sharapova's withdrawal, which is not a comfortable place for her.
"I feel that I am not fighting good because of too much pressure," she said. "Because I don't want to go on the court. I don't want to play. I don't want to stay there on the court. I feel very bad. So that is the problem for me. I have to find the way to find the motivation to go there."
Two unseeded players made the Grandstand Court the place to be for a few hours in the afternoon, as Christina McHale of northern New Jersey needed three sets to get past Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
Alison Riske, who is in the main draw at the Open for the first time, reached the third round by defeating No. 28 seed Mona Barthel of Germany, 6-4, 6-2.
On the men's side, unseeded American Jack Sock powered past Maximo Gonzalez, a qualifier from Argentina who upset Jerzy Janowicz in the first round, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Unlike Gonzalez, 179th-ranked Daniel Evans did advance. The British qualifier upset Bernard Tomic of Australia, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
No. 32 seed Dmitry Tursunov, a Russian who trains at the Gorin Tennis Academy in Granite Bay, beat wild card Guillaume Rufin of France 7-6 (4), 1-1, retired.
Mike and Bob Bryan began their pursuit of a Grand Slam in men's doubles with a 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory over Federico Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer.
The Bee Sports staff contributed to this report.