Russian tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova began the year with victories in the first round of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
Sharapova, seeded 1, defeated Italian Alberta Brianti in straight sets 6:2, 6:3 and will now face Renata Voracova from the Czech Republic in the second round.
"This is the first tournament of the year for me so you are just looking forward to whatever tournament you can play," said Sharapova, ranked 18th, who made an impressive comeback after shoulder injury.
Third seed Kuznetsova beat wildcard Sacha Jones from New Zealand also in two sets 6:4, 6:2 and will now meet with Peng Shuai from China.
"The circumstances were very hard for me, I hadn't played a match for three months then I met a player who was motivated and had nothing to lose," Kuznetsova told reporters.
MOSCOW, January 3 (RIA Novosti)