Australian Open: It's a day for comebacks in Australia

Arnold Nichols
January 18, 2018

The 30-year-old Russian former world women's tennis No1 raised her arms in triumph and accepted the plaudits of the big crowd at Margaret Court Arena after ousting Germany's Tatjana Maria 6-1 6-4 in the opening round of the Australian Open yesterday.

"2017, I have said goodbye already, I am not looking back", she said after a forgettable last season.

The crafty Latvian had knocked Sharapova out of the fourth round at Flushing Meadows a year ago during the Russian's return to grand slam action after a 15-month doping ban. "There were no decisions being made, there was no talk of boycotts or anything like that - that's all I can say really".

"I've got shivers. It means a lot to me", Sharapova said. "I cherish these moments".

Former No.1-ranked Karolina Pliskova beat Veronica Cepede Royg 6-3, 6-4 and Australian-born British player Johanna Konta won her match against Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1.

Sevastova would get the first mini-break of the tiebreak after a forehand victor down the line but then lost her two points on serve to give Sharapova the upper hand.

But a series of wins at the Hopman Cup this month, coupled with ending a 27-tournament title drought by winning the Sydney International - her first since the US Open - has restored her confidence.

Sharapova claimed she had not realised the drug had been added to the WADA list of banned substances but served a 15-month ban, returning previous year to a mixed reception from her peers and tennis fans, although she was handed a wildcard into the US Open having been snubbed at Roland Garros. She made her return to the tour in April, but didn't contest her first Grand Slam tournament until the U.S. Open, in which she reached the fourth round. "I want to see where I am on that level".

"If I don't feel myself ready, I will not be here".

No. 9 Johanna Konta beat Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1, handing the US a 10th loss in 11 first-round women's matches.

"Happy to be playing tennis again like 2016", said Kerber, who planned an ice bath before a relaxed dinner out in Melbourne to mark the occasion. "Shows how much depth we have in the women's game right now".

The Swiss, though, prevailed in a tough 4 set win over Recardis Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6.

German Andrea Petkovic won the final three games to beat two-time Wimbledon victor Petra Kvitova 6-3 4-6 10-8 in a thrilling first-round encounter, which lasted two hours and 52 minutes.

No. 13 Sam Querrey restored some order for the US men with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez, advancing to the second round. Two other United States contenders, No 8 Jack Sock and No 16 John Isner, were out on opening day.

Roberto Bautista Agut was another seeded casualty, losing in straight sets to Fernando Verdasco.

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