Masha off to a strong start at the 2012 Aussie Open.

Sharapova of Russia serves to Dulko of Argentina during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne

Maria Sharapova was at her ruthless best as she lost just one game en route to the Australian Open second round. The No.4 seed, who won the title at Melbourne Park in 2008, needed less than an hour to account for Argentina’s Gisela Dulko 6-0 6-1 in stifling conditions on the Hisense Arena. Despite fears over her fitness coming into the tournament following the ankle injury that forced her out of the Brisbane International, Sharapova quickly got into her stride. The Russian wrapped up the first set in just 25 minutes and had rattled off eight games on the bounce before Dulko finally got onto the scoreboard. However despite losing her serve, Sharapova broke back immediately before seeing out the match.

“I knew I had a tough opponent today,” said Sharapova, who registered 14 winners. “I focused on every point and took her time away – she’s a player who loves time on the ball.”

Russian stars Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova were both pushed hard in the opening round of the Australian Open on Tuesday. Both players required three sets to progress in hot conditions in Melbourne, hardly the ideal start to the campaign. Seventh seed Zvonareva took three hours and 15 minutes to see off battling Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru. The former Wimbledon and US Open finalist eventually prevailed 7-6 (7/4) 6-7 (5/7) 6-3. Kuznetsova, who has vowed to be aggressive as she looks to add the Australian crown to previous success at the French and US Opens, was not on court as long, but was still taken to a third set by Chanelle Scheepers. The 18th seed looked in a spot of bother when she lost the second set but she refocused and pulled away in the decider to win 6-3 3-6 6-0. Kuznetsova cracked 39 winners to her opponent’s 15. The two Russians will meet in the last eight if both continue to progress through the draw.






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