Australian Open starts
No. 30 seed coasts into second round after routing Brit
Maria Sharapova sharp, among the winners on first day of play.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Maria Sharapova has the second-best 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.
Sharapova, the 2008 Australian Open champion, got play started on Rod Laver Arena and needed only 63 minutes to advance.
In her 15th trip to Melbourne Park and her 55th Grand Slam tournament, she’s 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, of London, playing in the main draw of a major for only the second time after getting a wild card to play a year ago 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 double-faults.
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 the 2018 season after the U.S. Open.
Asked if she felt sorry for her young, beaten rival, Sharapova, who lost in the first round at Wimbledon last year, said: “I mean, there is no time for that, I’m sorry to say ... when you’re playing the first round of a Grand Slam. I think I was just focused on not having a letdown.
“I think it’s very easy to be in a position where things are flowing, you know, you’re doing all the right things, she’s making a few errors, you’re comfortable, easy to get complacent, and, you know, complacency is not great. I was glad that I did the right things from the beginning till the end.”
Among players who’ve 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.
Sharapova was one of five Australian Open titlists to play on Rod Laver Arena on Day 1. No 2 Rafael Nadal, who won his only Australian title in 2009, defeated Aussie James Duckworth, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
Nadal was on serve up, 5-2, in the third before closing out pesky Duckworth.
Fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson finally overcome traditional poor first-round performances at Melbourne Park with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 win over Adrian Mannarino.
Anderson had lost in the first round here six times, including to Kyle Edmund a year ago. It was the South African’s first win in Melbourne since 2015.
He warmed up for the Australian Open by winning his sixth ATP tour title at Pune, India.
Mannarino recorded his best performance at Melbourne Park by advancing to the third round in 2018. He went into the first slam of this season having lost in the first round at Doha and last week at the Sydney International.
Katie Boulter had the distinction of winning the first 10point tiebreaker under the Australian Open’s new system for determining level deciding sets.
Boulter beat Ekaterina Makarova, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (6), including 10-6 in the tiebreaker in which the first player to reach 10 with an advantage of two points clinches the match.
The night session on center court began with a ceremony honoring the man himself, Rod Laver, on the anniversary of his second Grand Slam of singles majors in 1969.
Maria Sharapova plays a backhand in her first-round 6-0, 6-0 win against British qualifier Harriet Dart Sunday at Melbourne Park.