Sharapova wins opener at the Australian Open
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.
The 2008 Australian Open champion got play started on Rod Laver Arena on Monday 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.
The 22-year-old Dart, 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 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 last season after the U.S. Open.
Stung by a first-round loss at Wimbledon last year, Sharapova said she couldn't afford to feel any empathy for Dart.
"I mean, there is no time for that, I'm sorry to say ... when you're playing the first round of a Grand Slam," she said. "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.
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 title in Auckland to start the season.