- World No. 4 Maria Sharapova wins her first WTA Tour match in almost five months
- Russian returns to action in Brisbane Monday following absence due to injury
- The four-time grand slam winner wins first-round match in just over an hour
- Grigor Dimitrov, last year's Brisbane men's runner-up, wins his opening match
Maria Sharapova made a successful return to the WTA Tour on Monday -- and her boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov also won his opening match of the new season at the same Brisbane International tournament.
Sharapova, on her first appearance at the Australian Open warmup event, brushed aside France's Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-0 in 63 minutes as she showed no signs of her recent shoulder problems.
It was the Russian's first WTA outing since losing in the first round in Cincinnati in August -- after which she parted with coach Jimmy Connors after just one match together.
The world No. 4 is now working with Sven Groeneveld, former mentor of Monica Seles and Mary Pierce, as she seeks to add to her 2008 Australian Open success this month.
"I think I was just really determined to get back on the court," Sharapova told reporters. "It's been a while. I think the whole team was really ready to go out.
"I knew I was going to play Monday night a little bit ago already. I got goosebumps when I heard because I was looking forward to today even a week ago.
"It's those days you work for. It was a big step to come and a big step to play out there tonight."
The 26-year-old, who pulled out of last year's Brisbane event with shoulder problems, will next face Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty.
"She is another future star and someone that I've seen grow up from the juniors and now onto the tour," Sharapova said of the 190th-ranked 17-year-old, who beat veteran Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova.
Barty's compatriot Casey Dellacqua will also be up against a big name in round two, having set up a clash with world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka by beating 67th-ranked Russian Galina Voskoboeva in three sets.
Fourth seed Jelena Jankovic battled past former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-2 7-6 (8-6), while German No. 5 Angelique Kerber, Spanish No. 8 Carla Suarez Navarro and Slovakian No. 9 Dominika Cibulkova also progressed.
Dimitrov also changed coach late last season to Roger Rasheed, who has worked with Lleyton Hewitt and Gael Monfils, and they continued their strong start together as the 22-year-old beat Dutchman Robin Haase 6-2 6-3.
The Bulgarian, runner-up in Brisbane last season and who won his first ATP Tour title in Stockholm in October, will next play former world No. 9 Marin Cilic.
Top seed Roger Federer's first opponent in Brisbane will be Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen, who beat 21-year-old Australian wildcard James Duckworth.
Meanwhile, Tomas Berdych's Australian Open preparations were hit Monday when the world No. 7 lost to big-serving Croation Ivo Karlovic in the opening round of the Qatar Open.
Karlovic fired 24 aces against the Czech in a 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-4) victory in Doha, while two-time runner-up Monfils of France and Poland's Lukasz Kubot also progressed.