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Sharapova opens season with easy win; Serena loses in Perth

/ 08:31 PM January 06, 2015
Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her match against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan during the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. AP

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her match against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan during the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. AP

BRISBANE, Australia — Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova were playing in tournaments on opposite sides of Australia, their form veering in opposite directions.

The second-ranked Sharapova opened her 2015 season by winning nine straight games in a 6-0, 6-1 win over Yaroslava Shvedova on Tuesday in the second round of the Brisbane International. The Russian had a bye in the first round at the season-opening WTA event in the sub-tropical east coast city, where Serena Williams won the title in 2014 but skipped this year in favor of the Hopman Cup in Perth, Western Australia state.

A day after joking about the “miracle coffee” she needed to perk her up during her opening match at the Hopman Cup, top-ranked Williams slumped to a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada. That left American teammate John Isner needing to win the men’s singles against Vasek Pospisil to force a mixed doubles decider in the Group A match against Canada.

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Williams asked for and was served a coffee after losing her first set of the tournament 6-0 to Flavia Pennetta on Monday, and credited the espresso with her rapid return to form and comfortable win that set the U.S. on course for a 3-0 victory over Italy. There was no such comeback against Bouchard in a match that lasted only 50 minutes.

Sharapova needed little more than an hour to oust Shvedova, a qualifier from Kazakhstan. Sharapova wrapped up the first set in 23 minutes and led 3-0 in the second before Shvedova held serve, raising her arm in mock triumph. Shvedova had a break-point opportunity in the next game, but couldn’t put away an overhead and Sharapova responded with a backhand winner down the line.

“It certainly felt good to start, after not playing a match for a couple of months,” said Sharapova, who is into the quarterfinals in her first competitive tournament since the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore in October. “I wanted to start off sharp and try to do the right things … and I think I did a good job of that.

“There were moments where I saved a few important break points, which was crucial. That gave me good confidence.”

Third-seeded Angelique Kerber advanced earlier Tuesday with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Daria Gavrilova. Varvara Lepchenko progressed with a 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow American Madison Keys.

In a men’s first-round upsets, Lukasz Kubot of Poland beat fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 7-6 (3), 6-4 and Sam Groth beat defending champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-2 in a night match. Seventh-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine advanced over Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 6-2, 6-3.

At the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, Venus Williams made short work of her first match of the new year by sweeping past Jana Cepelova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-0 in 52 minutes.

Williams, seeded third behind Caroline Wozniacki and Sara Errani, appeared fit and served 10 aces.

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The seven-time major winner reached the final of the Auckland hard-court tournament last year.

“It was very nice,” Williams said. “I was welcomed when I came on the court and I felt like I left off right from last year. I felt comfortable right away.”

The top-seeded Wozniacki had to work hard to subdue qualifier Julia Glushko of Israel 6-3, 6-2.

Urzula Radwanska beat former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-5 and another qualifier, Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, toppled fifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4.

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TAGS: Australia, BRISBANE, Brisbane International, Maria Sharapova, Perth, Serena Williams, Sharapova
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