Published: Tue, January 16, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

AUSTRALIAN OPEN - Sharapova, Kerber and Pliskova easily win

AUSTRALIAN OPEN - Sharapova, Kerber and Pliskova easily win

Starting off the year with a career-high ranking of 46, Maria endured through a series of disappointing losses, coming into the Australian Open without a win in 2018.

Despite her involvement in Thursday evening's draw being widely criticised, Sharapova received a positive response from the Margaret Court Arena crowd who cheered her name as she entered the venue.

Garcia discovered her forehand just in time to break Witthoeft as she was serving for the first set.

Sharapova won the tournament in 2008.

She hit 22 winners against the seven of her opponent, whose weak second serve was especially harshly dealt with.

"I felt like I have got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally previous year ... there was a lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament [since my ban], first grand slam, and just different feelings. I never contemplated retiring but when I was a teenager I never thought I'd play past 30 years old.I thought I'd win a few tournaments and then have a family".

Tennis legend Maria Sharapova made a triumphant return to the Australian Open on Tuesday, powering past opponent Tatjana Maria during her first match.

Halep ended a run of back-to-back first-round exits in Melbourne by beating teenage wild-card entry Destanee Aiava 7-6 (5), 6-1, setting up a match against 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard.

Wawrinka, who had six months out after surgery on his left knee, beat Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2).

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Asked how confident she is of winning the Australian Open, Sharapova told reporters: "I think confidence comes with time and with match play and putting yourself in situations where you're able to take those opportunities".

The German, bidding to clinch a 12th victory against Top 50 players, lost for the 14th time in 23 appearances in a Grand Slam first round, the fourth at Melbourne Park.

"I am very happy with that match", said the Australian-born 26-year-old.

The other champ in the field, Angelique Kerber, won her 10th match in a row to start the season, beating fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4.

"But it felt pretty routine today".

"It means a lot to me".

Young didn't go out without a fight, however, saving four match points on his serve in the ninth game of the final set before Djokovic served out the match in the next game.

'I've talked to all the players right throughout the year.

"I took a couple of months off of not training and not playing, which for me was just so unreal because since the age of four that's really all I did", she said.

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