Sharapova darts through opener
Maria Sharapova has the secondbest record among active players in first-round matches at the majors, and she gave an illustration of why that’s the case with a ruthless 6-0, 6-0 win over Harriet Dart at the Australian Open.
The 2008 Australian Open champion got play started on Rod Laver Arena yesterday and needed only 63 minutes to advance.
In her 15th trip to Melbourne Park and her 55th grand slam tournament, she is acutely aware of the toll that the sun and long early matches can have on a player’s title ambitions, so she gets straight to business.
Dart, 22, playing in the main draw of a major for only the second time after getting a wildcard to play last year at Wimbledon, only got a look at one break point in the match — when Sharapova served a double-fault in the second set. She got seven of her 29 points from Sharapova’s doublefaults.
That was the only real blemish in Sharapova’s stats: She hit 20 winners and won five of her five points at the net.
Sharapova said she was still feeling pain in her right shoulder despite sitting out the end of last season after the US Open.
Stung by a first-round loss at Wimbledon last year, Sharapova said she couldn’t afford to feel any empathy for Dart.
Among players who have played at least 10 majors, only 23-time major winner Serena Williams (.986) started the tournament with a better ratio.
Up next for Sharapova is Rebecca Peterson, who beat Sorana Cirstea, 6-4 6-1.
Among the other seeded players advancing were No 11 Aryna Sabalenka, who beat Anna Kalinskaya 6-1 6-4, No 19 Caroline Garcia, No 29 Donna Vekic and No 31 Petra Martic.
Danielle Collins advanced to the second round of a major for
the first time following a 2-6 7-6 (5) 6-4 win over No 14-seeded Julia Goerges, who won the ASB Classic in Auckland to start the season.
Katie Boulter earned the distinction of winning the first 10-point tiebreaker under the Australian Open’s new system for deciding sets.
Boulter beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0 4-6 7-6 (6), including 10-6 in the tiebreaker.
The new tiebreaker rule was introduced to ensure games don’t get too lengthy — previously the third set in women’s matches and the fifth set in men’s matches at
the Australian Open had to be decided by a two-game advantage.
Fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson won his first match at Melbourne Park since 2015 when he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1. Also advancing on the men’s side were No 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili, No 26 Fernando Verdasco and Rafael Nadal, who dispelled lingering fitness concerns in dispatching Aussie hope James Duckworth in straight sets, 6-4 6-3 7-5.
Nadal’s second-round opponent will be either another Australian, Matt Ebden, or Germany’s Jan-lennard Struff.