The Latest on Monday at the Australian Open: (all times local):
Maria Sharapova got out of the Melbourne heat as quickly as she could, needing just 63 minutes to beat British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-0, 6-0 in the first match on Rod Laver Arena at this year’s Australian Open.
Sharapova, who wore an ice collar during breaks to help alleviate the 30 degree Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) temperature, was making her 15th appearance at the season-opening major.
The only break point Sharapova faced was when she double-faulted in the fifth game of the second set.
Dart, who described Sharapova as her idol before the match, lost in the first round at Wimbledon last year after being given a wild card in her only previous Grand Slam singles appearance.
The 22-year-old Dart had a game point on her serve in the eighth game of the match, but Sharapova rallied to break the British player and continue the rout.
Another British player, Heather Watson, also lost early on day one, beaten 6-1, 6-2 by 31st-seeded Petra Martic.
Maria Sharapova will be the first of five former champions playing on Rod Laver Arena on day one of the Australian Open.
Sharapova, who won her only Australian title 11 years ago, was playing Harriet Dart in the opening match on Monday. Rafael Nadal, who won his only Australian title in 2009, was set to play James Duckworth, followed by 2016 winner Angelique Kerber against Polona Hercog.
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki was scheduled to play Alison Van Utyvanck to start the night session, followed by six-time Australian champion Roger Federer’s match against Denis Istomin.
The night session on center court was set to begin with a ceremony honoring the man himself, Rod Laver, on the anniversary of his second Grand Slam of singles majors in 1969.
The temperature was 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit) as players warmed up for the opening matches, and was expected to rise to 34C (93F) later in the day.