Maria Sharapova eases through in Melbourne

Maria Sharapova launched her Australian Open campaign in emphatic fashion as she crushed Petra Martic in straight sets.

Staff Reporter
19 January 2015, 4:11pm
Russia's Maria Sharapova serves during her women's singles match against Croatia's Petra Martic on day one of the 2015 Australian Open
Russia's Maria Sharapova serves during her women's singles match against Croatia's Petra Martic on day one of the 2015 Australian Open
The second seed can regain the coveted world No 1 ranking from arch-rival Serena Williams if she wins a second title at Melbourne Park and was all business as she downed Martic 6-4 6-1.

Sharapova said she was benefitting from a strong lead-in to the season-opening Grand Slam, when she won the Brisbane International.

"I made a few too many unforced errors but overall I'm glad I got through," she said. "She was a tough opponent and was really inspired.

"She can play. She's got some big weapons, I knew I had to be really strong from the beginning."

On a day when eight of the women's seeds were eliminated, including fifth-ranked Ana Ivanovic, Sharapova said she went into her night match on centre court wary of world No 184 Martic.

"There were quite a few upsets today. Of course I was very well aware of that. I certainly didn't want to be one of them," she said.

The Russian added that she was feeling "fresh" after overcoming a nagging shoulder injury last year and winning the French Open.

There were promising signs her hot run of form in Brisbane was continuing at Melbourne Park as she fired down two early aces and won around 90 per cent of points on her first serve in the opening exchanges.

Sharapova broke Martic in the fifth game and then again in the seventh, threatening to run away with the match until mistakes at crucial points, including two double faults late in the first set, allowed the Croat to hang on.

Sharapova, the Australian Open champion in 2008, had the chance to serve out the first set at 5-2 but Martic rallied and it finally ended 6-4 in the Russian's favour.

The world No 2's intensity and volume increased as the match progressed and she decisively seized the momentum in the second game of the second set when Martic fended off two break points but succumbed to a third.

Martic never recovered and the rest of the match was a one-sided affair as Sharapova snuffed out her opponent's resistance, relentlessly exploiting her popgun second serve.

Sharapova will face compatriot Alexandra Panova in the second round.