Sharapova on song in Tokyo
Tokyo - Maria Sharapova shrugged off last year's disappointing first-round exit as she got off to a confident start by beating Tamarine Tanasugarn in the Pan Pacific Open on Monday in Tokyo.
The Russian world No 2, who crashed to a surprise defeat by Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm last year, was in full swing as she defeated the veteran Thai 6-1, 7-5 to stride into the third round after a first-round bye.
"I served really well today. I had a good percentage and a few aces. It is definitely important for me to serve well because she reads the ball very well," said Sharapova, the winner here in 2005 and 2009.
"I played really a good match. I had a little bit of let-down in the second set. She started playing very well. It was much tougher in the second set, but I got it in two sets," added Sharapova, 24.
Sharapova took the first set easily and then jumped into a 3-0 lead in the second set.
But Tanasugarn fought back. She cashed in on a double break opportunity in the fourth and 10th games to even the score at 5-5 as the Russian suddenly began misfiring.
But Sharapova steadied herself to break back in the following game and then, serving for the match for the second time, she made no mistake, finishing off with her seventh ace.
Former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, eighth seed and the runner-up to Sharapova in 2009, joined the Russian in the third round by beating Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2.
Earlier in the day, seventh seed Marion Bartoli of France defeated Japan's Ayumi Morita 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 to reach the third round.
In first-round action, former world No 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia outclassed Anastasia Rodionova of Australia 6-4, 6-0, while Mandy Minella of Luxembourg downed Date-Krumm 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Maria Kirilenko of Russia trounced Japan's Erika Sema 6-1, 6-0, American Vania King breezed past China's Zhang Shuai 6-1, 6-0, and Julia Goerges of Germany defeated Pauline Parmentier of France 6-3, 6-4.
The organisers were forced to postpone some other matches on outside courts because of rain, while they closed the roof of the centre court.