Melbourne, Australia — Maria Sharapova won for the first time at Melbourne Park since taking the 2008 Australian Open title, beating Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn, 6-1, 6-3, today in the opening match on center court.
Sharapova, the former top-ranked player who missed the 2009 Australian Open because of a shoulder injury and was ousted in the first round last year by fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, struggled with her serve and was inconsistent in the second set. After losing the opening service game at love, Sharapova won seven straight games to take a 6-1, 1-0 lead.
The 33-year-old Tamarine, clearly not in peak physical condition, rallied and had a game point on serve for a 4-1 lead, but Sharapova broke back and regained momentum, winning the last five games.
Even when she was winning, though, Sharapova had trouble finding range with her serve. She had 10 double-faults and five aces.
Nerves had a role in that.
“I definitely felt that in the beginning,” Sharapova said.
• In other Australian Open news, Caroline Wozniacki started her first major as the No. 1-ranked woman with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Argentina’s Gisela Dulko.
It was the 20-year-old Wozniacki’s first victory of the year, following a straight-sets loss to Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova last week in the Sydney International and exhibition losses to No. 2 Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters at Singapore and Hong Kong.