World No.20 Donna Vekic eliminated 2008 champion Maria Sharapova in the first round of the 2020 Australian Open on Tuesday, as the struggling Russian has suffered her earliest exit in Melbourne since 2010 and has now fell in the first round in her past three majors.
Playing only her second match since September’s US Open because of a shoulder injury, Sharapova quickly found herself trailing 5-1 against the 19th-seeded Vekic and even though the Russian won two straight games, her opponent withstood the pressure and won the first set. In the second set it was Vekic who came back from behind, but the Croat went all the way, recovering from a 4-1 deficit by winning five straight games to secure a 6-3 6-4 victory.
The former world No.1 Sharapova, currently as low as 145 in the rankings, was awarded a wildcard by the organizers, but when asked whether this was her last appearance at the Aussie Open, the five-time Grand Slam champ just shrugged: “I don’t know. I don’t know.”
After rain messed up the opening day’s schedule, Tuesday was super busy at Melbourne Park. Seeds mostly enjoyed good results, including Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens, Madison Keys, Alison Riske, Dayana Yastremska, and Maria Sakkari who all progressed into the second round.