KATIE Boulter gave stable-mates David Beckham and Neymar plenty to be happy about as she won her opening Australian Open match.
The 22-year-old from Leicestershire signed up by KIN Partners, the agents of the former England captain, and the PSG and Brazil superstar.
And she marked that new deal by winning 6-0 4-6 7-6 against Ekaterina Makarova, a former semi-finalist here in Melbourne.
Boulter won the first set 6-0 in blistering style out on court 12 and many observers thought the Russian might have been struggling with injury. Yet Makarova’s experience came to the fore as she won the next set 6-4.
In the third set, Boulter matched her older opponent strid-for-stride, clinching the match 10-6 in the first final-set 10-point Championship tie-break in Grand Slam history. Remarkably she had forgotten the rules and started celebrating at seven points — before realising it was the first player to 10.
This is the second time, following her heroics at Wimbledon last summer, in which she has made the second round at major level.
Maria Sharapova handed a hammering to teary Brit Harriet Dart with a double-bagel victory on the opening day.
Dart, Britain’s no.4, picked up £42,000 for just 10 games of tennis as she was annihilated on the first match of the Rod Laver Arena
The 22-year-old may have won the toss and elected to receive first but that was about the best of her luck all morning.
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Sharapova, the 2008 Aussie Open champion, was in ruthless form as she wrapped up the win in a time of 63 minutes. Dart left the court in tears as she failed to leave a mark on her more illustrious opponent.
Even when she was handed a time warning for taking too long with her serve in the fifth game, Sharapova’s rhythm was not disrupted under 35-degree baking hot sun.
It is the third time Sharapova has beaten someone in Melbourne without dropping a game – Olga Puchkova (first round, 2013), Misaki Doi (second round, 2013) and now Dart (first round, 2019)
Sharapova, 31, said: “It’s my first match on the Rod Laver for a while. It’s a pretty amazing opportunity to play here.
“It has been many years since I held aloft that trophy here. It’s always a privilege to compete on this court. Despite my opponent not having the best day, I still had to get the job done.”
Heather Watson was the first Brit to crash out of the main draw as she lost in 64 minutes 6-1 6-2 to Croatian No.31 seed Petra Martic. It is the fifth time in six majors she has gone out at the first hurdle.
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