Maria Sharapova beat Australia’s Daria Gavrilova 6-0 6-4 for her first WTA win in her native Russia for 13 years.
The win at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy sets up a second-round match against Russian No. 1 Daria Kasatkina.
Sharapova brushed aside Gavrilova in the first set before the Australian raced to 4-2 in the second.
But Sharapova won four straight games and closed out the match.
Sharapova has rarely played Russian tour events during her career, and when she has she’s never got past the quarterfinals.
“I am very pleased to visit St. Petersburg for the first time in my life,” she said through translator.
The Hermitage Museum. From the inside and out. pic.twitter.com/rjfKrPnS3J
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) January 25, 2019
“I honestly wanted to come here, but there was no possibility to come here earlier. I am glad that the Russian people cheered for me.
“I know when I play at home, I am strongly and warmly supported by the fans. For me it means a lot to win a match in homeland after so many years.”
Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva advanced to the second round by beating Ekaterina Makarova 6-3 6-4.
Zvonareva, 34, returned to the top 100 in the rankings this month after a six-year absence.
She will next play either Julia Goerges of Germany or Maria Sakkari of Greece in the second round.
Alison van Uytvanck defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-2 6-4, setting up a second-round match against fourth seed Aryna Sabalenka.
23 August 2019
The draws are out and the US Open is almost upon us. So it's time to delve into the storyl... More
23 February 2016
Tennis is a funny old game. People love you one minute and then want to drop you the next;... More
29 April 2016
Victory was never out of the question when Bernard Tomic faced 17-time Grand Slam champion... More