Sharapova shows she's ready for Aussie Open run - NBC Sports

Sharapova shows she's ready for Aussie Open run
No. 2-ranked player blanks Puchkova 6-0, 6-0 in first round
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Maria Sharapova didn't show any signs of trouble with her sore right shoulder in her victory Monday.
January 14, 2013, 8:01 am

Maria Sharapova finished her first match of the year in 55 minutes Monday, cruising to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Olga Puchkova to start proceedings on center court at the Australian Open without showing any signs of trouble with her sore right shoulder.

The No. 2-ranked Sharapova, who lost the final to Victoria Azarenka here last year before going on to win the French Open, faced only two break points in the match and she saved both of those in the first game.

Then she went on a 12-game roll that earned her a second "double bagel" inside a year.

Sharapova started her run to the French Open title with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Alexandra Caduntu at Roland Garros last year. But she said the score line wasn't really relevant.

"If you win 7-6 in the third, you've still won the match," she said.

"After a couple of close games and a few break points, I certainly started to concentrate a bit better," she said. "I didn't want to concentrate on the fact I hadn't played a lot of matches. I just wanted to focus on what was ahead of me and really be aggressive.

"It was one of those matches where I didn't try to worry about her too much."

Sharapova has a potential third-round match against Venus Williams, who needed just an hour for her opening 6-1, 6-0 win over Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.

No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska won the last nine straight games in her opening 7-5, 6-0 win over Australian wild-card entry Bojana Bobusic 7-5, 6-0 and 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur beat Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan 7-6 (3), 6-3 to end a run of five losses on home soil.

Williams took command of her match early with a steady stream of winners and powerful serves.

She skipped last year's Australian Open due to illness and was warmly welcomed with applause as she entered the court. Williams had the biggest jump of any of the top players in 2012, moving from outside the top 100 to finish the year at No. 24.

"It's hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure," Williams said. "I did my best to just close it out."

She's pleased the progress she made last year after a seven-month layoff due to Sjogren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease that can cause fatigue,

"I'm not a patient person," she said. "But I think what I have learned more than anything is for me to focus on the things I can accomplish and not to think about the things that I can't do."

Her younger sister, Serena, was sitting in the crowd with coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Serena is the favorite to win the Australian Open, heading into the tournament with 35 wins in her past 36 matches including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the U.S. Open.

No. 3-ranked Serena Williams is in the top half of the draw with defending champion Azarenka, and the pair won't start until Tuesday.

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