Maria Sharapova began her quest for the 2015 Australian Open title with a convincing 6-4, 6-1 victory over a gutsy PetraMartic.
The 2008 champion and this year’s second seed proved too much for her opponent, who was powerless to deal with Sharapova’s accuracy and sheer force.
Sharapova appeared agile from the off, covering the baseline quickly to set up her shots. The 27-year-old made the court extremely hard to cover for Martic, whose most successful route to points came through the serve and volley in the early stages.
Martic won all five of her net points in the first set, recorded by the Australian Open website, but struggled to make up further ground elsewhere.
The world No. 182 put together some decent rhythm in the opening exchanges without threatening to seriously dominate her opponent.Martic simply couldn’t return with the same velocity as Sharapova, who appeared stronger and more cunning than we’ve seen in recent times.
The Russian broke 4-2 in the first set before taking control with a simple shot selection that forced her rival continually off balance. A thunderous ace set Sharapova up for the pivotal set point, beforeMartic‘s shoulders slumped as she sent her next shot into the net.
Sharapova won 81 percent of her first-service points in the opening set. Martic was unable to trouble if she failed to win the initial point, securing just 15 percent of her opportunities on the second serve.
Unfortunately for the outsider, Sharapova simply rolled on from here, winning five consecutive games in the second set to all but confirm the result. It wasn’t unusual to see Sharapova completely elevated off the ground when pummelling a return toward Martic, whose struggle intensified as the match progressed.
She made a couple of last-ditch challenge attempts to try to stem Sharapova’s quality, but the winner’s steely gaze summed up the futility of a decision that only prolonged the inevitable. Sharapova hit 26 winners and unenforced errors, highlighting she will need to focus even more intensely during the next round.