Sharapova makes winning start at Australian Open

MELBOURNE: Former Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova recovered from some shaky moments against Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn to cruise into the second round 6-1, 6-3 on Monday.
The 2008 winner lost her opening service game to the 33-year-old Tamarine but hit back to win the next six games, wrapping up the first set in just 26 minutes.
The glamorous Russian broke again in the first game of the second set before going off the boil, dropping the next three games to go 3-1 down.
Tanasugarn had game points to make it 4-1 but Sharapova, seeded 14th, fought back, breaking her former doubles partner to get the set back on serve.
She dominated the rest of the match to become the first seeded player into the second round, where she will face either fellow countrywoman Elena Vesnina or Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano.

Sharapova has already improved on last year's performance, when she was a first-round loser last year against fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko.

Sharapova has struggled to reproduce the form that brought her three Grand Slam titles after an operation on her right shoulder in October 2008.

The 23-year-old's slow recovery suffered another setback this month when she was beaten by unheralded Hungarian Greta Arn at the WTA tournament in Auckland.

The Australian Open women's draw has been blown wide open by the injury withdrawal of five-time champion Serena Williams, with Sharapova among seven Grand Slam winners in the field.

Belgium's Kim Clijsters is the favourite but faces a tough first-round assignment against Russia's Dinara Safina, the 2009 finalist here.


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