Sharapova returns with a win in Australia

By
Updated: December 30, 2013

Brisbane, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) – Playing her first WTA match in over
four months, Maria Sharapova returned a winner Monday at the 2014 season-
opening Brisbane International tennis event, a hardcourt Australian Open tune-
up.

The third-seeded former world No. 1 star blew past France’s Caroline Garcia
6-3, 6-0 at Queensland Tennis Centre.

Sharapova was appearing in only her second match in six months following a
bout with shoulder and hip problems and is also working with a new coach in
Sven Groeneveld.

“I think I was just really determined to get back on the court,” Sharapova
said. “It’s been a while. I think the whole team was really ready to go out. I
knew I was going to play Monday night a little bit ago already. I got
goosebumps when I heard because I was looking forward to today even a week
ago.

“It’s those days you work for. It was a big step to come and a big step to
play out there tonight.”

Sharapova’s second-round opponent will be Aussie Ashleigh Barty on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, fourth-seeded former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic beat former French Open
champ Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) and fifth-seeded German Angelique
Kerber drubbed France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-2.

In other action Day 2 action involving seeds, No. 8 Carla Suarez Navarro of
Spain spanked Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh 6-2, 6-1 and No. 9 Slovak Dominika
Cibulkova dismissed Brit Heather Watson 6-4, 6-3.

Also winning on Monday were Aussies Barty and Casey Dellacqua, Estonian and
2012 Brisbane champion Kaia Kanepi, and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who
was last year’s runner-up here to the great Serena Williams.

This week’s top seeds are the reigning champion Williams and 2009 titlist
and 2008 runner-up Victoria Azarenka. The world No. 1 Williams will open her
2014 season against German Andrea Petkovic on Tuesday, while the reigning
Aussie Open titlist Azarenka will encounter Dellacqua on Wednesday.