Sharapova out of Australian Open; Clijsters, Murray win
MELBOURNE: Former champion Maria Sharapova was knocked out of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday (January 18), losing her first round match to fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 7-6 3-6 6-4.
Sharapova, seeded 14th, was broken by the 58th-ranked Kirilenko when serving to stay in the match at 5-4 down in the third set to lose her first match at Melbourne Park since beating Serbia''s Ana Ivanovic for the title in 2008.
The Russian former world number one, who posted 66 unforced errors and struggled with her serve, rallied from a set down but surrendered a break with her eighth double-fault of the match to trail 2-0 in the decider.
Kirilenko wobbled when serving for the match at 5-3 to allow Sharapova to break back, but coolly sealed the win after bringing up two match points.
World number two Dinara Safina overcame a poor service and a string of errors to advance to the second round.
Safina, last year''s beaten finalist at Melbourne Park, committed nine double faults and 39 unforced errors before she eventually beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4 6-4 in the first match on Hisense Arena.
The 23-year-old Russian had her serve broken twice by the Slovak but managed to convert four of her own break opportunities to come through in 89 minutes.
U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters made a smooth return to the Australian Open by posting a comfortable 6-0 6-4 win over Valerie Tetreault.
After steamrolling the Canadian in the first set, the Belgian met stiffer resistance from Tetreault in the second but broke the qualifier late to wrap the first match up in less than an hour.
Clijsters, seeded 15th, is making her first appearance at Melbourne Park in two years since retiring to become a mother in 2008.
Andy Murray muscled into the second round with a 6-1 6-1 6-2 demolition of South Africa''s Kevin Anderson.
After breezing through the first two sets in exactly an hour, the fifth-seeded Briton''s charge to victory was halted momentarily when he was broken while leading 3-1 in the third under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena.
But the Scot, who holds Britain''s hopes of ending a 74-year wait for a men''s grand slam singles champion, mowed through the next four games to seal the win.
Juan Martin Del Potro showed no signs of a wrist injury that hampered his grand slam buildup when he advanced to the next round.
The tall Argentine, who played only one match at the invitational Kooyong Classic tournament in Melbourne before withdrawing because of the injury, overcame American Michael Russell 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-2.
The U.S. Open champion was rarely troubled by the 31-year-old Russell though he appeared to lose his composure in the third set due to some contentious line calls.
A visibly angry Del Potro, however, regrouped and raced through the fourth set to advance to a second round clash with American James Blake or France''s Arnaud Clement.