Melbourne - Second seed Maria Sharapova launched her Australian Open campaign in
emphatic fashion on Monday, crushing Petra Martic of Croatia in straight
sets to send an ominous warning to her rivals.
five-time Grand Slam champion can regain the coveted number one ranking
from arch-rival Serena Williams if she wins a second title at Melbourne
Park and was all business as she downed Martic 6-4, 6-1.
27-year-old said she was benefitting from a strong lead-in to the
season-opening Grand Slam, when she won the Brisbane International.
made a few too many unforced errors but overall I'm glad I got
through," Sharapova said. "She was a tough opponent and was really
"She can play. She's got some big weapons... I knew I had to be really strong from the beginning."
a day when eight of the women's seeds were eliminated, including
fifth-ranked Ana Ivanovic, Sharapova said she went into her night match
on centre court wary of world number 184 Martic.
quite a few upsets today. Of course I was very well aware of that... I
certainly didn't want to be one of them," she said.
added that she was feeling "fresh" after overcoming a nagging shoulder
injury last year and winning the French Open.
promising signs her hot run of form in Brisbane was continuing at
Melbourne Park as she fired down two early aces and won around 90
percent of points on her first serve in the opening exchanges.
broke Martic in the fifth game and then again in the seventh,
threatening to run away with the match until mistakes at crucial points,
including two double faults late in the first set, allowed the Croat to
Sharapova, the Australian Open champion in 2008, had the
chance to serve out the first set at 5-2 but Martic rallied and it
finally ended 6-4 in the Russian's favour.
The world number two's
intensity and volume increased as the match progressed and she psyched
herself up with cries of "C'mon Maria".
She decisively seized the
momentum in the second game of the next set when Martic fended off two
break points but succumbed to a third.
The Croatian never
recovered and the rest of the match was a one-sided affair as Sharapova
snuffed out her opponent's resistance, relentlessly exploiting Martic's
popgun second serve.
She will face compatriot Alexandra Panova in the second round.