World number two Novak Djokovic overcame some late Radek Stepanek resistance to make a winning return to action at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

The Serb, who missed last week's Madrid Masters with a wrist injury, showed no signs of discomfort on his way to a 6-3 7-5 second-round victory over the Czech.

He will now play Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber, who saw off 16th seed Tommy Robredo, in the next round of the clay-court event.

Djokovic did lose his opening service game but soon recovered to ease through the first set.

Only with the winning line in sight did he falter, failing to finish the job when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second.

Stepanek then saved three match points as Djokovic served for the match again at 6-5, but the six-time grand slam title winner was not to be denied.

Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, the third seed, continued his good form ahead of the French Open with a convincing 6-0 6-3 defeat of qualifier Pere Riba.

In the women's event, second seed Li Na came through against qualifier Casey Dellacqua 6-1 6-4.

There was a surprise as China's Shuai Zhang beat fifth seed Petra Kvitova 7-6 5-7 6-3 while seventh seed Angelique Kerber lost 4-6 6-3 6-3 to qualifier Petra Cetkovska.

Meanwhile, top seed and defending champion Serena Williams, due to face Andrea Petkovic on Wednesday after receiving a first-round bye, was still to announce whether she would be fit to play.

The American was forced to pull out in Madrid last week with a thigh injury.