Turning up the heat: Sharapova into 3rd round, Konta out

Six-time champion Novak Djokovic
Six-time champion Novak Djokovic

18 January, 2018

Maria Sharapova marked her return to the Australian Open today with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Germany's Tatjana Maria in their first-round match.

She celebrated by twirling, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd.

"It feels great to be back here and great to be back on a tennis court - there is no better place for me after six months of injury than here in Australia", he said. "So I am happy to be here, happy that I'm on court again", he said.

Australian Open organisers were criticised for their choice of 2008 champion Sharapova for Thursday's draw ceremony and it would be no surprise if the world No. 48 faced a backlash on her return to action in Melbourne.

"I felt like I have got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally previous year with - there was a lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament, first Grand Slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely", she said. There were a lot of firsts again for me - playing the first tournament, first grand slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely. "I cherish these moments".

The 2016 champion and former world No1 maintained her unbeaten start to the year with a merciless 6-0 6-4 first-round win over German compatriot Anna-Lena Friedsam.

The Russian, who faces Angelique Kerber next in a mouth-watering clash of former Australian Open champions, warned she was still improving less than a year after her comeback last April.

One wrote: "Had to look twice to make sure Maria Sharapova wasn't playing herself".

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"I saw that some of you have written a story that has been a bit exaggerated and you've taken things out of context and you've portrayed me as someone who is very greedy and asked for more money and asked for a boycott", Djokovic said.

Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva earned a hard-fought 7-5 7-6 (6) victory over Heather Watson, meaning Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund are the only British hopes left to claim the Melbourne Park title.

Last year, Djokovic fell in the Australian Open second round to wild card Denis Istomin in one of the upsets of the 2017 season.

"It felt pretty routine", the 30-year-old said. "Shows how much depth we have in the women's game right now".

The 13th-seeded Querrey was one of 10 American players - men and women - to reach the second round from the 32 who started the main draws.

Wawrinka, who was six months out after surgery on his left knee, beat Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2).

German Andrea Petkovic won the final three games to beat two-time Wimbledon victor Petra Kvitova 6-3 4-6 10-8 in a thrilling first-round encounter, which lasted two hours and 52 minutes.

No 13 Sam Querrey restored some order for the United States men with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez.

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