Published: Tue, January 16, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Federer, Djokovic Win Big In Melbourne

Federer, Djokovic Win Big In Melbourne

Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic ensured there were all kinds of successful comebacks on Day 2 of the Australian Open.

Her opponent was actually one place higher on the WTA rankings and the same age as Sharapova.

However, it was business as usual for Sharapova on Margaret Court Arena as the Russian star saw off Maria to reach the second round.

Many said it was conducted "as if she had taken a holiday rather than serving a 15-month doping ban", and was a slap in the face to anti-doping efforts.

Former world number one Pliskova was among those to move smoothly into the second round, with a steady 6-3, 6-4 win over Veronica Cepede Royg.

"I was thinking a lot about what happened at the tournament last year because it was my favourite tournament of the whole season", said the 36-year-old, who beat Rafael Nadal in 2017 final.

"I'm planning to play new tennis this year by changing my serve and forehand, so it's inevitable that I won't get good results right away".

Sharapova, a victor of the Australian Open in 2008 and now the world No. 48, faced more resistance in the second set from the player sitting one place above her in the WTA rankings.

Halep ended a run of back-to-back first-round exits in Melbourne by beating teenage wild-card entry Destanee Aiava 7-6 (5), 6-1, setting up a match against 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard.

No.8 seed Caroline Garcia sealed her first win of 2018 after a slow start against Carina Witthoeft 7-5, 6-3 beating the German for the third time in three meetings without losing a set. But I'm also realistic, and the process of coming back takes time.

Kerber, the other former Open victor in the women's tournament, won her 10th match in a row to start the season, beating Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4.

'Last year 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.

'Obviously I wanted to enjoy the moment and it was special to be here, ' she said.

"It's been a very tough match, she was playing really well", Halep said after the match.

'So maybe, having that period of time, just for my mind, I was able to do other things in my life and study.

Three breaks in the opener set up Sharapova's win and although Maria improved in the second, the five-time grand slam victor was too good, setting up a meeting with either 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova or Varvara Lepchenko in round two. He also looked physically spent toward the end of the fourth set before rallying to dominate the tiebreaker and close out the match.

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