Sharapova battles through
Maria Sharapova battled her way into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Six years on from her sole triumph in the opening grand slam event of the season, the No 3 seed continued her comeback from a shoulder injury eventually getting the better of her American opponent in an hour and 39 minutes.
The Russian, who missed the last five months of 2013, bounded into a 4-0 lead but things were not so straight forward thereafter, with her serve once again a cause for concern.
Sharapova landed just 53 percent of her first serves and delivered nine double faults, a performance that could cost her dear if repeated later in the tournament.
It allowed Mattek-Sands to break back to 2-4 in the first set before Sharapova served it out in 48 minutes on an extremely muggy evening in Melbourne.
The 2006 champion then picked up an early break in the second set only for the world No 41 to regain parity at 4-4, before the American was broken again when double-faulting.
It allowed Sharapova the opportunity to serve out for the match, which she did with a heavy serve that her opponent was unable to deal with.
The world No 3 goes through to face Italy's Karin Knapp, who defeated Paula Ormaechea of Argentina, in the second round.