Duo on course for third-round clash
Maria Sharapova led a host of Australian Open challengers into round two on Monday with a ruthless demolition of countrywoman Olga Puchkova.
There was little Russian solidarity on show as the second seed enjoyed a 6-0 6-0 'double-bagel' against an opponent who gave a faultless impersonation of a rabbit trapped in the headlights on Rod Laver Arena.
The win moved Sharapova a step closer to a potential third-round shoot-out against five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and also dispelled any doubts over the state of her collarbone which she injured shortly before Christmas.
Last year's beaten finalist said: "After a couple of close games I started to concentrate a bit better. I didn't want to focus on the fact I hadn't played a lot of matches but just focus on what was ahead of me and really be aggressive - today was a good scoreline."
Sharapova may have been the first winner of the tournament but she was closely followed by Williams, who dropped just one game in brushing aside Galina Voskoboeva.
The American was pleased to have negotiated the first hurdle with the minimum of fuss, saying: "It's nice to spend less time on court and not be in long sets. A win is a win no matter what the scoreline is, but it's nice when it's more routine."
There were also wins for in-form fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, fifth seed Angelique Kerber, sixth seed Li Na and home favourite Sam Stosur.
Radwanska, the winner of the warm-up events in Auckland and Sydney, looked in danger of dropping her first set of 2013 when Australian wild card Bojana Bobusic served for the opener at 5-4 but the Pole upped her level and rattled off the next nine games to go through 7-5 6-0.
Li, the runner-up in 2011, eased past Kazakhstan's Sesil Karatantcheva 6-1 6-3, Kerber had few problems in seeing off Elina Svitolina but Stosur was made to work harder by Chang Kai-Chen of Chinese Taipei, eventually coming through 7-6 (7/3) 6-3.
Top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka and title favourite Serena Williams open their campaigns on Tuesday against Romanian opposition. Azarenka meets Monica Niculescu, while Williams takes on Edina Gallovits-Hall.