BREAKING NEWS
5-year-old missing, possibly abducted in Palmerston North ... Read more
Close

Sharapova overpowers American Mattek-Sands

IAN RANSOM
Last updated 02:36 15/01/2014
Maria Sharapova
Getty Images
SERVING IT UP: Maria Sharapova serves during her straight sets victory over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round at the Australian Open.

Relevant offers

Tennis

Evan Dela Rue takes out three national titles on the brink of 80th birthday Finn Tearney in line for Davis Cup debut for New Zealand Two tennis umpires banned, four investigated over corruption - ITF Andy Murray a dad as wife Kim gives birth to their first - a baby girl Top seed Bernard Tomic embroiled in foul-mouthed rant at Ecuador Open Kiwi Michael Venus lands second doubles title of year in Montpellier Caroline Wozniacki named Denmark flag-bearer for the Rio Olympics Michael Venus into doubles tennis final at the Open Sud De France New Zealand doubles star Michael Venus shines in France Roger Federer sidelined from tennis after undergoing knee surgery

Maria Sharapova celebrated her return to the grand slam spotlight with an emphatic 6-3 6-4 win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands in what was a clash of styles in more way than one at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The third seed, wearing a sleek pale blue dress, was made to work hard for her passage into the second round and lost her service twice as her American opponent mixed things up with her all-court game.

Mattek-Sands, famous for her distinctive outfits, retained her trademark knee socks despite the heat and sported a riot of stripes and colour topped off with a purple pony-tail, a look Sharapova described as "very creative".

When it came to the tennis, though, it initially looked like the 2008 Australian Open champion would have things all her own way.

Sidelined from the US Open and the latter part of last season with an injury to her right shoulder, Sharapova released some pent-up frustration by roaring into a 4-0 lead to leave 41st-ranked Mattek-Sands reeling under the lights of Rod Laver Arena.

"I knew that it was going to be a tough match," said the Russian, who next plays 44th-ranked Italian Karin Knapp. "No matter what I had to do, I wanted to get through it, and I think that's what it was about today."

After clinching an early break in the second set, Sharapova wobbled to allow her opponent back into the game but the American double-faulted at 4-4 to concede the decisive break, allowing the Russian to serve out and seal the match with a booming serve.

Although pleased to have avoided the worst of the heat on a day when temperatures peaked at 42.2 degrees Celsius, for Sharapova it was enough just to be playing in one of her sport's big four tournaments again.

"I was happy just to play, despite the heat or anything. I've been out of the game for a while, so I was happy to be back in a grand slam atmosphere," she said.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content