Maria Kirilenko and her boyfriend, Igor Andreev, refused to look on the bleak side after the singles draw for the Australian Open was made here last week. "He had Roger Federer and I had Maria Sharapova," Kirilenko said yesterday. "Before the matches he said we could start the year loudly. Well, I've already started the year loudly, I think. Now it's his turn."
Andreev was due on court earlier today to face Federer and needed only to look to Kirilenko for inspiration after the world No 58's 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 victory over her fellow Russian. It was Sharapova's earliest defeat in a Grand Slam for seven years and underlined her struggle to return from the shoulder injury that kept her out for more than 10 months.
Sharapova hit 11 double-faults and made 77 unforced errors in her first defeat here since she lost to Serena Williams in the final three years ago. The world No 14 dismissed the setback as simply "a bad day".
The returning Belgians, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, enjoyed straight-sets wins over Valérie Tétreault and Kirsten Flipkens respectively. Henin now meets Elena Dementieva, the No 5 seed, in the second round.
Jelena Dokic, who captivated the crowd with her performances here last year, fell at the first hurdle to Russia's Alisa Kleybanova on a disappointing evening for the locals. Rafael Nadal had got the night session under way with a 7-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over another Australian, Peter Luczak.
Andy Roddick beat the Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker in straight sets and survived a nasty collision with a line judge. The American was relieved he did no further damage to the knee injury he suffered at the end of last year but was not impressed by the official's behaviour. "He wasn't really trying to do much to get out of the way," Roddick said. "Normally when they see a player running full speed they decide to at least move or catch the player. I felt like he was trying out for WWE [professional wrestling] or something."