"I believe that being here is a great step for me," Sharapova told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday as she prepared to compete in the Australian Open, her first major since losing in the second round in Wimbledon in June and pulling the plug on her season a few weeks later because of a shoulder injury. "Of course I want to have higher expectations. I really should, because I am healthy and I'm happy to be here. But I have to moderate those expectations and be real about things and understand nothing substitutes for tennis matches. I haven't obviously had that."
Maria Sharapova of Russia makes a backhand return during practice for her opening-round match Tuesday at the Australian Open tennis championship
1st round match highlights between Julia Goerges and Sara Errani at Australian Open 2014
Sara Errani has fallen at the first hurdle in the Australian Open by succumbing to a 6-3 6-2 defeat to Julia Goerges in the first round. The Italian managed to grab a break point in the opening set, but she was broken twice herself, by Goerges, who scored 23 winners to give herself the edge in the match.
Errani needed to launch a comeback in the second set, but with just four winners, the Italian struggled to find her feet on the Margaret Court Arena. It was a different story for Goerges, who was able to snatch three break points and seal a place in the second round of the competition.
Laura Robson and Heather Watson were beaten as British interest in the women's singles ended swiftly at the Australian Open. Both players took on higher-ranked opposition in the first round, but the manner of their defeats differed sharply. Robson spent just 50 minutes on court in a 6-3 6-0 thrashing by 18th seed Kirsten Flipkens - the Briton's first full match of the season following a wrist injury.
Maria Sharapova shines bright on Tuesday at the Australian Open, as she edged Sydney's semi-finalist Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 6-4 in great fashion. Maria hit 29 winners and 5 aces, but also committed 28 unforced errors and 9 double faults.
World No. 3 Sharapova raced out of the blocks and took a 4-0 advantage in the first set, leaving Mattek-Sands stunned. But the American fought back in earnest and made a contest of it before eventually going down 6-3. Sharapova took an early break in the second to lay down the initiative, before ceding ground and allowing Mattek-Sands back into the game.
@mariasharapova serves it out & is safely through to the next round