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Sharapova eases to first round win
Maria Sharapova dispelled any uncertainty over her fitness with a ruthless demolition of Olga Puchkova at the Australian Open.
The Russian was forced to pull out of the warm-up event in Brisbane after suffering a collarbone injury shortly before Christmas.
But in her first competitive match of 2013 she showed no signs of rustiness by brushing aside her Russian countrywoman 6-0 6-0 in just 55 minutes.
Sharapova's dominance was only threatened in the early stages when Puchkova, ranked 107 in the world, held two break points in the opening game but the second seed gave an early demonstration of her physical state with two booming aces to avert the danger.
From there on in it was a procession as the first match of the tournament on the main show court - Rod Laver Arena - ended in a disappointing no-contest.
Sharapova reached the final last year before being crushed by world number one Victoria Azarenka and she is hoping to go one better this year and repeat her Melbourne triumph of 2008.
She said: "I am so happy to finally play a match in 2013.
"You want to play as much as you can. My goal was to play Brisbane but I couldn't so I came here a bit earlier.
"I was eager to come back and hopefully go a step further this year."