Naomi Osaka is taking things "one notch at a time" at Tokyo 2020 after another convincing performance in round two on Monday.
With Ash Barty having suffered a shock exit a day prior, Osaka is now the favourite for glory on home court and with Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek among the round-two casualties that status is sure to only be enhanced.
There was better news for Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova at the Ariake Tennis Park, though, in a women's draw stacked with top-tier talent.
OSAKA NOT GETTING AHEAD OF HERSELF
Back after a self-imposed two-month hiatus, defending US and Australian champion Osaka has not missed a beat and was too good for Viktorija Golubic in a 6-3 6-2 victory.
Osaka won 24 of 26 service points in the first set and 37 of 45 in the second, facing break point only once in a one-sided affair.
"It would mean a lot to win gold here, but I know it's a process," she said. "I know these are the best players in the world and honestly I haven't played in a while, so I'm trying to take it one notch at a time.
"All in all, I'm just really happy to be here. I haven't been in Tokyo for a couple of years."
Svitolina was not as comfortable with the fourth seed rebounding from losing the opening set to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6 6-3 6-4. Maria Sakkari (14) awaits in the next round.
Carla Suarez Navarro earned her first win since recovering from cancer in round one and battled valiantly against Karolina Pliskova (5) before eventually losing in three sets.
Garbine Muguruza (7), Barbora Krejcikova (8) and Belinda Bencic all coasted through in straight sets, as did Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (13) and Elena Rybakina (15).
TEARS FOR IGA
Swiatek, whose father was an Olympic rower, would have had strong designs on a deep run at the Games but was beaten 6-3 7-6 (7-4) by Paula Badosa.
The Pole was left in tears after the defeat, and was still sobbing at her chair several minutes after the end of the match.
Sabalenka also bit the dust, going down in three sets to Donna Vekic, while Petra Kvitova lost the deciding set of her tie with Alison Van Uytvanck 6-0 to bow out with a whimper.