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.
18 February 2019
The world's top two players, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep, are both coachless after Halep ... More
16 February 2019
Simona Halep fought back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to beat Elina Svitolina 6-3 3-6... More
22 February 2019
Unseeded Belinda Bencic has rallied to beat second-ranked Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-2 to reac... More