Maria Sharapova off to a flyer but Serena Williams hit with fatigue

The pair were playing in tournaments on opposite sides of Australia

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The Independent Online

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova were playing in tournaments on opposite sides of Australia, and their form veered in opposite directions, too.

World No 2 Sharapova opened her 2015 season by taking nine straight games in a 6-0, 6-1 win over qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova in the second round of the  Brisbane International and was obviously happy to be back on court. “It certainly felt good to start, after not playing a match for a couple of months,” Sharapova said.

But Williams’ problems with tiredness plagued her again as she suffered a  surprise defeat to Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in the Hopman Cup in Perth and complained afterwards: “It’s weird. I can’t get my body to move. I feel like I’ve got no energy. It’s a little frustrating because I know I can play 2,000 times better. I’ve just got to get my feet moving. I have to figure it out.”

The previous day she needed a coffee after losing the first set to Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, going on to win  0-6,  6-3, 6-0 and credited her success to the caffeine hit. However, she could find no such lift to prevent a first defeat against world No 6 Bouchard, losing in just 50 minutes 2-6, 1-6. “Maybe she needed another coffee,” joked Bouchard.

The Canadians clinched the Group A match against the United States when Vasek Pospisil beat John Isner 6-3, 7-6 in the men’s singles. The Czech Republic beat Italy 3-0 in the other match.

Williams played in the tournament in preference to the season-opening WTA event, the Brisbane Open, where she is reigning champion. In her absence, Sharapova needed little more than an hour to beat Shvedova, a qualifier from Kazakhstan, in their second-round match. The Russian received a bye in the first round.

Sharapova wrapped up the first set in 23 minutes and led 3-0 in the second before Shvedova finally held serve, raising her arm in mock  triumph. Shvedova had a  break point opportunity in  the next game, but could not put away an overhead shot  and Sharapova responded with a backhand winner down the line.

“There were moments where I saved a few important break points, which was crucial,” said the Russian. “That gave me good confidence.”

Third-seed Angelique Kerber advanced earlier in the day with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Daria Gavrilova. Varvara Lepchenko progressed with a 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow American Madison Keys.

The men’s world No 1 Novak Djokovic polished off fellow Serb Dusan Lajovic  6-2, 6-1 in the first round of the Qatar Open.

Making his first appearance at the hardcourt event as he cranks up his Australian Open build-up, Djokovic showed no sign of the illness that sidelined him at last week’s Abu Dhabi exhibition event as  he eased through to the  second round.

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