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By Erik Gudris / Monday, December 30, 2013

 

After a four-month absence, Maria Sharapova made a winning return in her opening round match at the Brisbane International.

Photo Credit: AP

Maria Sharapova is back.

The Russian superstar, who missed four months at the end of this year due to a shoulder injury, posted a winning return in the first round of the Brisbane International.

Taking on France's Caroline Garcia, Sharapova displayed no signs of rust as she allowed her opponent only three games. The event's No. 3 seed struck 26 winners and committed only 10 unforced errors on the way to a convincing 6-3, 6-0 win.

"It was a big step to come and a big step to play out there," Sharapova said. "These matches are what I came here for. No matter the opponent or the situation, you know, they're really priceless for me at this point and extremely important."

Sharapova, who skipped the US Open due to her shoulder, stressed that she was playing pain free and feeling 100%. The opening round win was also the debut of the new coaching partnership between Sharapova and Sven Groeneveld, who joined the Russian's team only a few weeks ago.

Next up for Sharapova is 17-year-old Australian qualifier Ashleigh Barty, who knocked out Daniela Hantuchova earlier 6-3, 7-5.

"She’s already played a few matches, four, I believe, here," Sharapova said about Barty on the event's website. "For me, it’s my second match. I think for both of us it’s just really, in different ways, a great opportunity for me to go out there and play another match against a tough opponent, also a tougher crowd as well, which is understandable. It’ll be fun.”

 

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