Melbourne: Russian tennis star and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova kicked off her Australian Open campaign on a winning note as she motored past Germany’s Tatjana Maria in straight sets in the opening match of the tournament here on Tuesday.
The former world number one bounced back from 1-3 down in the second set to close out a 6-1, 6-4 win over world No. 47 Maria in a thrilling first-round clash of the women’s singles event that lasted for one hour and 18 minutes at the Margaret Court Arena.
Sharapova won five of the last six games of the match besides accumulating 22 winners and racking up 28 unforced errors overall in the match to sprint her way into the second round.
With the win, unseeded Sharapova has now improved her record in first rounds of Grand Slams to 48-3 while she has improved her record against Germans to 26-5, the WTA reported.
It was Sharapova’s first match at Melbourne Park since failing a drug test at the 2016 tournament, which led to a 15-month doping suspension.
The Russian player will now lock horns with either Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova or Uzbekistan’s Varvara Lepchenko in the second round.
In another women’s singles clash, Johanna Konta also made it to the second round after clinching comfortable straight sets victory over America’s Madison Brengle.
Konta saw off her American opponent 6-3, 6-1 in the opening round to now set up her next clash against Croatia’s Bernarda Pera.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Angelique Kerber also made a winning start as she swept aside her fellow countryman Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4 in the first round.
Kerber will celebrate her 30th birthday on Thursday when she square off with either Japan’s Nao Hibino or Croatia’s Donna Vekic in the next round.