AUS Open: Sharapova blanks Rd 1 opponent

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 14, 2019 12:36 hrs
Sharapova returns to court for first time since doping ban

Five-time Major champion Maria Sharapova has had the best possible start at the Australian Open. The 2008 champion at Melbourne Park took a mere 63 minutes to blank her first round opponent and move into the next round. Sharapova beat British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-0, 6-0 at the Rod Laver Arena.

Making her 15th appearance at the season's first Grand Slam, Sharapova faced just one break point in the whole match when she double-faulted in the fifth game of the second set.

Meanwhile, 17-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal beat wildcard entrant James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the second round. Nadal, who won the Australian Open in 2009, has only lost twice in the first round at Grand Slams - to Steve Darcis at 2013 Wimbledon and to Fernando Verdasco at Melbourne Park in 2016.

It was quite a test for the world number two, who hadn't played competitive tennis since retiring from his semi-final clash against Juan Martin del Potro at last year's US Open due to a knee injury.

The 2016 Australian Open champion and second seed in the women's draw - Angelique Kerber, ran out a 6-2, 6-2 winner against Polona Hercog. Other seeded women's players to progress to the second round were fifth seed Sloane Stephens, ninth seed Kiki Bertens. The 2018 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, the 22nd seed was knocked out.

In men's draw, ninth seed John Isner was knocked out on the first day. The American lost 6-7 (4), 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5) to fellow compatriot Reilly Opelka.

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