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.
Asked if she felt sorry for her young, beaten rival, Sharapova, who lost in the first round at Wimbledon last year, said: “There’s no time for that when you’re playing the first round of a Grand Slam.”
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. Rafael Nadal, who won his only Australian title in 2009, was set to play James Duckworth, followed by 2016 winner Angelique Kerber against Polona Hercog.
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki was scheduled to play Alison Van Utyvanck to start the night session, followed by six-time Australian champion Roger Federer’s match against Denis Istomin.
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