Maria Sharapova saw off Bethanie Mattek-Sands in her opening match of the 2014 Australian Open on Tuesday.
The Russian, who was playing her first Grand Slam match since Wimbledon, having missed the 2013 US Open with a shoulder problem, beat America’s Mattek-Sands 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second-round on a steamy 32-degree night.
“You know, the conditions were tough for everyone. I think we got the least today, considering how late we played. But it was still pretty warm out there. Warm enough to have to use some ice vests,” Sharapova said.
The third seed led 4-0 but Mattek-Sands scrapped all the way to the finish of the error-strewn match.
“She was a tough opponent and I’m just happy to get through the first one,” Sharapova said after the match. “I have had trouble against her in the past and I knew it would be no different this time.”
“No matter what I had to do, I wanted to get through it, and I think that’s what it was about today.”
In one other match played at the Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, home favourite, Lleyton Hewitt, lost 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5 to Italy’s Andrea Seppi.
The former world number one managed to equal Andre Agassi’s Open era record of 41 career five-set matches in the loss.
“Every Grand Slam loss is tough,” said Hewitt, who arrived for his 15th Australian Open after beating Federer to win the warm-up Brisbane Internationals.
“There’s no easy ones you know, obviously if you come close to winning. Even though it’s a first-round match, it’s still frustrating.”