Aus Open: Sharapova cruises, Wozniacki crashes

Maria Sharapova showed few signs of rustiness as she romped to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Nao Hibino in the Australian Open first round on Monday. The same was not the case for favourite Caroline Wozniacki, who lost to Yulia Putintseva.

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Maria Sharapova in action at the Australia Open

Maria Sharapova showed few signs of rustiness as she romped to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Nao Hibino in the Australian Open first round on Monday.

The fifth seed had not played a competitive match in the build-up to the first grand slam of 2016, having withdrawn from the Brisbane International due to an arm injury.

It was also Sharapova's first slam appearance since the semi-finals of Wimbledon after a leg strain kept her out of last year's US Open, but the Russian's typically powerful ground strokes and baseline dominance punished Hibino and the match was sewn up in just 73 minutes.

Hibino made a poor start as she went long with a forehand to gift Sharapova the first break. The Japanese was under the cosh again in game six and, although she saved four break points, a vicious backhand drew a double-break lead for Sharapova.

The 2008 Australian Open champion broke again at the start of the second set and it was quickly a double-break lead when Hibino put a forehand long, a simple Sharapova hold then making it 4-0.

Hibino drew a big cheer from the Margaret Court Arena crowd when she fought back from 15-40 to finally get on the scoreboard in the second set, and Sharapova uncharacteristically wasted three match points at 5-2 up to give the world number 56 a glimmer of hope.

But that was soon stifled as Sharapova broke straight back, ending the match with a cross-court forehand.

Wozniacki suffers surprise loss

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki suffered her first ever Australian Open first-round exit with a surprise loss to Yulia Putintseva.

Wozniacki, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2011, went down to the Kazakh 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 on Hisense Arena. The Danish 16th seed had never been sent packing in the opening round in Melbourne before, but she did make a second-round exit last year.

It had appeared unlikely after a dominant first set that ended in 31 minutes, with Putintseva's 17 unforced errors decisive.

But Putintseva, 21, took out her win in three hours, 12 minutes, with Wozniacki sending a forehand into the net on match point.

Wozniacki had needed a medical timeout for treatment on a foot injury, while Putintseva also appeared to be struggling physically in the Melbourne heat.

Putintseva twice fell behind a break in the second set before her fightback, with a break in the ninth game of the third crucial.

Sara Errani, Sloane Stephens, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova were among the other women's seeds to exit on the opening day.

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