Sharapova opens AO campaign with double-bagel

Published by AAP

Maria Sharapova hits a forehand against Harriet Dart in the first round of the Australian Open
The former Australian Open champion blitzes her first-round opponent Harriet Dart on Rod Laver Arena, her third 6-0 6-0 victory at Melbourne Park.

Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova was untroubled by her chronic shoulder issue and her hapless British opponent as she cruised into the second round of the Australian Open.

Playing just her second tournament since calling a premature end to 2018 at the US Open, Sharapova claimed a double-bagel triumph over qualifier Harriet Dart, who was reduced to tears in the aftermath.

The No.30 seed needed just 63 minutes to claim the 6-0 6-0 victory on Monday and advance to a second-round encounter with Swede Rebecca Peterson.

“Obviously the shoulder hasn’t been much of a secret in the past year,” said Sharapova, who is chasing her first grand slam title since serving a 15-month doping ban.

“That’s been something I have been struggling with and had to shut down the season after the US Open.

“It’s still not where I want it to be and I’m still working through some painful days.

“But I felt like I did all the right things today in order to get through that match.”

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The Russian’s haul of five major titles includes the 2008 Australian Open crown.

Sharapova’s most recent grand slam title came at the 2014 French Open.

Less than two years later she was hit with a two-year doping ban – later reduced to 15 months – for testing positive to the banned substance meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

After winning three matches in qualifying last week to earn a spot in the main draw at Melbourne Park, the 22-year-old Dart was thoroughly outclassed by Sharapova, winning only 29 points across two one-sided sets.

“I was just focused on not having a letdown,” said Sharapova.

“It’s very easy to be in a position where things are flowing and you’re doing all the right things, she’s making a few errors and you’re comfortable.

“Then it’s easy to get complacent and complacency is not great.

“So I was glad that I did the right things from the beginning till the end.”?

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