CARLSBAD — For Alicia Molik, the payoff for patience and perseverance against Amelie Mauresmo was big, and the payback was sweet.
Molik, whose best performance in a Grand Slam tournament was cut short by Mauresmo in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January, returned the favor with a stunning 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 second-round victory over the No. 2-seeded player in the Acura Classic on Wednesday at La Costa Resort and Spa.
"I was pretty disappointed after that loss at the Australian Open," Molik said. "I believe that was a match that I should have won. And in saying that I didn't win last time, I was more determined this time. I knew that if I did get my chances, I would work that much harder and make sure that I would close it out."
Molik, unseeded but rising steadily and now at a career-high No. 29 in the WTA entry-system rankings, ended both sets that she won against Mauresmo in similar fashion, taking the final game of each at love. She will face American Amy Frazier in the third round today.
"To serve it out to love against someone like Mauresmo, I think I can pat myself on the back for that," Molik said.
There were few indications of an upset early on, because Mauresmo, of France, started out well enough, jumping out to 3-0 leads in each of the first two sets. She had a chance to break Molik for the set at 30-40 in the 10th game of the first set but failed to capitalize.
"It's very disappointing. I didn't come here to be out of this tournament so soon," said Mauresmo, ranked No. 3 in the world. "But, you know, what can you say? It's one of these tough moments."
Molik, a 23-year-old Australian, played through the tough times she faced.
"I was 3-love down, but there wasn't much in it," she said. "I hit a few loose shots, a few loose forehands, but I didn't let that worry me, and I showed that. The fact that I went for a couple forehands that I missed didn't put me off. It didn't annoy me. It didn't make me negative. I had a game plan, and it's a matter of going out there and persisting with it."
Molik gained the advantage in the key 10th game of the first set with a forehand winner and then served up an ace to win and pull into a 5-5 tie. She won the last two games to close out the set. With each rally, her confidence grew, and Molik controlled the third set, which she opened by breaking Mauresmo in the first game.
"I think she played her game, she played her match and was very consistent today. She usually makes more unforced errors, and it didn't happen today," Mauresmo said.
Fourth-seeded Lindsay Davenport made sure there would be no second-round upset victory this time for Karolina Sprem, the 19-year-old Croatian who bounced Venus Williams from Wimbledon in the second round. Davenport, of Laguna Beach, routed Sprem, 6-4, 6-0, in a featured match Wednesday night.
Davenport was broken only once, in her first service game, and the match lasted little more than an hour. She made up for lost time in the second set after needing five break-point opportunities before converting to win the third game of the first set, and after getting four more break points but failing to convert in the fifth game.
Davenport will face 32-year-old Conchita Martinez in today's third round.
No. 7-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova was one of three Russians to advance to the third round. Kuznetsova routed Daniela Hantuchova, 6-1, 6-2, as the latter felt the effects of an upset stomach. Elena Likhovtseva defeated Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-3, and Elena Bovina beat Eleni Daniilidou, 6-1, 6-4.
Eighth-seeded Ai Sugiyama of Japan won, 6-2, 6-2, over countrywoman Shinobu Asagoe, eliminating her scheduled Olympic Games doubles partner, and Gisela Dulko upended 2000 French Open champion Mary Pierce, 6-3, 7-6 (1). Conchita Martinez made sure there would be no upset for Iveta Benesova, beating the 21-year-old from the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4, after Benesova ousted No. 16-seeded Silvia Farina Elia.