MELBOURNE Jan 14 Maria Sharapova celebrated her return to the grand slam spotlight on Tuesday with an emphatic 6-3 6-4 win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands to charge into the second round of the Australian Open.
Sidelined from the U.S. Open and the latter part of last season with an injury to her right shoulder, the Russian 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.
After clinching an early break in the second set, third seed 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.
Sharapova next plays 44th-ranked Italian Karin Knapp. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Tony Jimenez)