Maria Sharapova has the second-best record among active players in first-round matches at the majors, and she showed why with a ruthless 6-0, 6-0 win over Harriet Dart in Melbourne.

The 2008 Australian Open champion got this year's play started on Rod Laver Arena yesterday and needed only 63 minutes to advance.

In her 15th trip to Melbourne Park and her 55th Grand Slam tournament, the Russian's acutely aware of the toll that the sun and long early matches can have on a player's title ambitions, so she gets straight to business.

The 22-year-old Dart, playing in the main draw of a major for only the second time after getting a wildcard to play last year at Wimbledon, only got a look at one break point in the match - when Sharapova served a double-fault in the second set.

Advertisement

Dart got seven of her 29 points from Sharapova's double-faults.

That was the only real blemish in Sharapova's stats: She hit 20 winners and won five of her five points at the net.

Sharapova said she was still feeling pain in her right shoulder despite sitting out the end of last season after the US Open.

Asked if she felt sorry for her young, beaten rival, Sharapova, who lost in the first round at Wimbledon last year, said: "There's no time for that when you're playing the first round of a Grand Slam."

Among players who've played at least 10 majors, only 23-time major winner Serena Williams (.986) started the tournament with a better ratio.

Up next for Sharapova is Rebecca Peterson, who beat Sorana Cirstea, 6-4, 6-1.

Among the other seeded players advancing were No 11 Aryna Sabalenka, who beat Anna Kalinskaya 6-1, 6-4, No 19 Caroline Garcia, No 29 Donna Vekic and No 31 Petra Martic. Rafael Nadal avoided another Australian wild-card entry upset at a Grand Slam tournament by seeing off 238th-ranked James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, his 15th win in 17 matches against wild cards at Grand Slam tournaments.

Fifth-seeded Sloane Stephens ended a three-match losing streak in first-round matches at Melbourne Park with a 6-4, 6-2 win over fellow American Taylor Townsend.

- AP