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Russia's Maria Sharapova beats German Tatjana Maria in Australian Open first round

17 January 2018

Twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova's return to the Australian Open a year after being attacked by an intruder at her home ended in disappointment with a marathon 6-3 4-6 10-8 first-round loss to German Andrea Petkovic on Tuesday.

While last year's victor and second seed of the tournament, Roger Federer, also blasted his way to a straight sets victory over Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, before getting an on-court visit from a Hollywood superstar. After the match she acknowledged that the path to a title would not get any easier at Melbourne Park. Halep was 5-2 down in the first set to the 17-year-old Australian, who looked fearless as she took on the woman top of the WTA rankings.

Sharapova quickly established her dominance after a hold to love and then getting the early break.

"She's a little bit like Serena (Williams), she's hitting the ball strong, she's a powerful girl and for sure she will be good in the future".

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With a comfortable lead, Sharapova now had the pressure of closing out the set. Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and 2014 victor Stan Wawrinka returned from injuries that had sidelined them since Wimbledon, top-ranked Simona Halep recovered from 5-2 down in her first set and a tumble in the second, and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber continued her unbelievable return to form.

As usual, the 19-time major victor stayed classy.

Zverev (4) and Thiem (5) got the job done in three sets - the latter smashing 48 winners, including a ridiculous shot through his legs, against Guido Pella - but seventh seed Goffin, a quarter-finalist past year, needed four to see off Matthias Bachinger. Even his new serve, with an abbreviated take-back created to protect the elbow, held up well.

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She played the Brisbane International two weeks ago with her new coach, Thomas Krupa.

Said one fan: 'Maria Sharapova is playing Tatjana Maria right now in the #AusOpen, but it just looks like the scoreboard is biased'. Just like in the first set, Sharapova was able to leave the mistakes behind and put herself back into the set as she held to equalize the scoreboard to 3-3.

The Swiss star is a consummate media performer and regularly conducts his post-match interviews in multiple languages for the large global press contingent that hang on his every word.

Back in the possession of the momentum, Sharapova managed to turn the match around now leading 4-3 and back on serve. The match took 23 games to decide. Bouchard, who made it to the semifinals here and at the French Open in 2014 before losing the Wimbledon final, has had a fall from grace and is now ranked 112th from her career high of No. 5.

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Russia's Maria Sharapova beats German Tatjana Maria in Australian Open first round