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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova ruined Petra Martic's 24th birthday on Monday by recording a 6-4 6-1 victory to advance to the second round of the Australian Open.
Sharapova ran hot and cold in the first set, taking a 5-2 lead only for the Croatian to battle back to 5-4 and holding a break point to get the match back on serve before Sharapova held and then broke to seal the set in 43 minutes.
The Russian five-times grand slam champion faced some staunch resistance from the 184th-ranked Croatian in the second set despite the one-sided scoreline, but was mostly able to convert the crucial points when they mattered.
Sharapova will now meet compatriot Alexandra Panova in the second round after she beat Romania's Sorana Cirstea 7-5 6-0.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly