Australian Open 2018: Maria Sharapova beats Tatjana Maria to reach second round

Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a shot against Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia. Thomas Peter Reuters

Sharapova served the suspension for taking controversial medication meldonium during the 2016 Australian Open.

The former World No.1 improved her record in first rounds of Grand Slams to 48-3.

Jo Konta has been tipped as a contender for the Australian Open title after linking up with Maria Sharapova's former coach.

Tiley said organisers always want a former champion to conduct the draw, and because of ongoing tournaments and other commitments, the 10-year anniversary of Sharapova's victory in Melbourne was the ideal opportunity to opt for the Russian.

"I've got shivers", Sharapova said of playing again at Melbourne Park. "I cherish these moments".

Maria Sharapova's first match back at the Australian Open turned out to be against someone who made the scoreboard read simply "Maria Sharapova".

It set the tone for the opening stanza with Sharapova, behind her trademark loud shrieking, powering home winners as Maria failed to hold serve. "I love it here", she added.

Pera carries an EpiPen emergency allergy injector with her at all times, just to be safe.

Johanna Konta is free from injury, ready to put a awful second half to 2017 behind her and with Andy Murray recuperating from hip surgery, happy to shoulder the burden of British tennis fans at the Australian Open.

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Pera has only seen Konta play on television, so she's a little unsure what to expect.

"After being away for such a long time, there are adjustments", she said.

The 2016 champion pounced on Friedsam's shaky service game, breaking six times on her way to a 6-0, 6-4 victory on Hisense Arena.

Pliskova, who held the top ranking in July of previous year, is among six players who could return to No. 1 depending on results at the season-opening major.

Her struggles were exacerbated by a foot injury and while she managed to end her losing streak in Brisbane two weeks ago with wins over Madison Keys and Ajla Tomljanovic, she withdrew from a quarter-final against Elina Svitolina with a hip injury. The defending champion lost to eventual victor Elina Svitolina in the semifinals.

"The hard part is to get them to do it day in and day out and to have confidence, to know they belong and that they can win a lot of matches on their terms".

There was some success for the Americans as Bernarda Pera beat Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-2, 6-2, while Spain's Lara Arruabarrena eased past the Netherlands' Richel Hogenkamp 6-1, 6-2 in under an hour. On Monday, the nine U.S. women eliminated included 2017 finalist Venus Williams and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. She was defeated by Angelique Kerber in the semifinals in 2016 and lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals past year.

Fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova begins play on Rod Laver Arena in a match Tuesday against Veronica Cepede Royg, with Halep following two matches later against Destanee Aiava.


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