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Sharapova staying grounded after Melbourne win

16 January 2018 06:47

Maria Sharapova said she is "not overly confident" in her pursuit of a sixth grand slam title after making a winning start at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Former world number one Sharapova marked her first match in Australia since 2016 with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Tatjana Maria at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

A 15-month doping ban after testing positive for meldonium – dating back to the 2016 Australian Open – forced the five-time major winner to skip last year's tournament.

However, it was business as usual for Sharapova on Margaret Court Arena as the Russian star saw off Maria to reach the second round.

Asked how confident she is of winning the Australian Open, Sharapova told reporters: "I think confidence comes with time and with match play and putting yourself in situations where you're able to take those opportunities.

"I know that nothing will be handed to me or anyone. You have to work for every point in a match. It's too far to tell. I'm not overly confident.

"I have expectations because of my previous results in my career, and I know at what level I can play and what tennis I can produce. But I'm also realistic, and the process of coming back takes time. I keep building and learning."

Sharapova was a class above in the opening set as she broke in the first game but Maria produced a spirited display in the second.

Maria, playing behind the baseline, found her rhythm, however, Sharapova claimed five of the final six games to cruise into the next round.

"It felt pretty routine," the 30-year-old said. "I have been here a week, practising on the courts. Got used to all the different weather conditions that Melbourne presents to all of us. It's been good.

"I felt like I have got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally last year with - there was a lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament, first grand slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely. But it felt pretty routine today, just really happy to be back here."

Sharapova continued: "I feel like I'm building. I feel like with every tournament and every week I have different feelings about different things. Some things are coming a little slower than I wanted. Some things I feel good about.

"Still feel like I'm building physically and getting the match play in. I'm motivated to, with every week, to keep taking in what I have learned from that week and using it to my advantage in the following tournament. As long as I have that in my mind, it's okay."

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