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Australian Open 2018: Grigor Dimitrov beats Dennis Novak in first round

Australian Open 2018: Grigor Dimitrov beats Dennis Novak in first round”

The 30-year-old former champion returned a positive doping test after a quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams in 2016, resulting in a 15-month ban from the sport. A lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament, first Grand Slam.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley defended the decision to invite Sharapova to the draw ceremony.

"I just tried to be compact, focused, used every opportunity I had and tried to save some energy", said the Bulgarian, a semi-finalist a year ago.

"So maybe, having that period of time, just for my mind, I was able to do other things in my life and study".

"It's been a couple of years since I've been back", she said after advancing to a second-round clash against either No.14 seed Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia or American Varvara Lepchenko.

Maria Sharapova said she is "not overly confident" in her pursuit of a sixth grand slam title after making a winning start at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Asked if her return to Melbourne had produced flashbacks to that fateful day two years ago, she said: "No". "Nothing will be handed to me or anyone".

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"Even though they say they're raising the money all the time - they are - but they're earning much more than they did [in the] last [few] years and that's a bit of a problem, I think". "It was really bad".

Garcia discovered her forehand just in time to break Witthoeft as she was serving for the first set.

Fellow former world number one Angelique Kerber, who won the tournament in 2016, was also impressive in dismissing Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4. Kerber, who won the 2016 Australian Open, won four singles matches at the Hopman Cup, then followed that up with five wins en route to the Sydney International title last week.

The second set threatened to get a little tricky as Sharapova was broken to love to trail 1-3.

Pliskova, who held the top ranking in July of past year, is among six players who could return to No. 1 depending on results at the season-opening major. The Czech struggled to take command with her crosscourt forehand, the South American offered her low balls and the former No.1 rarely bows down to generate power with her legs.

No. 4 Elina Svitolina was a straight-sets victor over Ivana Jorovic.

Djokovic, wearing a compression sleeve over his troublesome right elbow, raced through the first two sets against Donald Young before the American rallied.



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