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Maria Sharapova returns from injury with win at Brisbane International

• The No3 seed defeats Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-0 in first round



Every point mattered for Maria Sharapova in her competitive comeback from injury, as she beat 74th-ranked Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-0 in the first-round of the Brisbane International on Monday. Sharapova ripped forehand winners and nullified her rival's biggest weapon with consistently aggressive service returns. She chased down balls to turn up the tempo when she was behind in two games in the second set and celebrated break points with triple fist pumps, even when the result was well beyond doubt.

The four-time grand slam winner had played only one match following an early exit at Wimbledon and had not competed since pulling out of the US Open in August because of a shoulder injury. She showed no signs of soreness in advancing to the second round in her only warm-up event for the Australian Open.

"It's been four months … [so] it was a big step for me. It was a big step to come and a big step to play out there," Sharapova said, adding that she was pain-free and feeling good. "These matches are what I came here for. No matter the opponent or the situation, you know, they're really priceless for me at this point and extremely important."

The No3 seed hit 26 winners and kept the unforced errors to 10, hitting six aces and only one double-fault – immediately after a backhand winner down the line had given her triple match point. She will now face the 17-year-old Australian qualifier Ashleigh Barty, who beat 2012 Brisbane finalist Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 7-5.

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Maria into Brisbane Quarters
Maria is into the quarters of the Brisbane International without hitting a ball as her opponent Ashleigh Barty of Australia had to withdraw with a left abductor tear.

In Thursday's quarter-final match, Maria will play world no.30 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Maria has played the 28-year-old twice and leads the series 2-0. Here are the matches they have played against each other:
2012 French Open QF: Maria won 6-2 6-3
2013 Madrid QF: Maria won 6-2 6-4
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