A trio of former champions rolled into the second round Monday at the Australian Open. 2008 champion Maria Sharapova looked about as good as you can in hammer British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-0, 6-0.
In Dart’s debut, Sharapova wasn’t letting up on the gas to allow the 22-year-old a game.
“There is no time for that, I’m sorry to say,” Sharapova said. “But when you’re playing the first round of a Grand Slam – I have been in many positions, last year Wimbledon came out against a qualifier that played really well. You know, there is no doubt that my level wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but she was there to take the match.
“So I’m not so much worried about my opponent, but I have to step up when the time is right and when I need to, so that’s my main goal.”
Sharapova also said she’s still working through injuries.
“I think it was a good test for my leg, for my shoulder,” Sharapova said. “Obviously the shoulder hasn’t been, you know, much of a secret in the past year. That’s been something I have been struggling with and had to shut down the season after the US Open.
“Still not where I want it to be. Still working through some painful days. But, yeah, you know, I felt like I did all the right things today in order to get through that match.”
2016 winner and recent Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber took the court and dropped just four games in a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Polona Hercog.
“The first rounds are always tricky,” Kerber said. “I think that I was trying to finding my rhythm, especially in the first few games. I mean, I think I was returning good. That was, yeah, a good point from this match.
“In the second set, I was feeling a little bit better and better, hitting the balls also with a little bit much more power than in the first set.”
Caroline Wozniacki opened her title defense with a strong 6-3, 6-4 win over Alison Van Uytvanck.
With her win over countrywoman Taylor Townsend, former semifinalist Sloane Stephens ended a run of three straight first round losses in Melbourne.
Popular darkhorse pick Aryna Sabalenka won her first career Australian Open match thumping Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-1, 6-4. She now faces young Brit Katie Boulter who knocked out former semifinalist Ekatarina Makarova in a first-ever final set tiebreak at the Australian Open.
Elsewhere, two upsets were registered. Former University of Virginia standout Danielle Collins upended No. 14 seed Julia Goerges and Maria Sakkari sent out No. 12 seed Jelena Ostapenko.
In the nightcap, Petra Kvitova continued her hot run breezing past Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-2.
On Tuesday, both Williams sisters return. The 38-year-old Venus Williams meets Mihaela Buzarnescu while Serena takes on another mother in Tatjana Maria.
World No. 1 Simona Halep will try to avoid a second straight loss in a Major first round to Kaia Kanepi. US Open champ Naomi Osaka opens play against Magda Linette and Madison Keys meets young Australian Destanee Aiava.
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