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Sharapova has a potential third-round match against Williams, who needed just an hour for her opening 6-1, 6-0 win over Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.
No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska won the last nine games in her opening 7-5, 6-0 win over Australian wild-card entry Bojana Bobusic, and 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur beat Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan 7-6 (3), 6-3 to end a run of five losses on home soil.
Sixth-seeded Li Na, who lost the Australian Open final before winning the 2011 French Open, had a 6-1, 6-3 win over Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan, while No. 18 Julia Gorges of Germany and No. 27 Sorana Cirstea of Romania also advanced. Former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic beat Sweden's Johanna Larsson 6-2, 6-2.
On the men's side, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych defeated Michael Russell 6-3, 7-5, 6-3, No. 10 Nicolas Almagro of Spain outlasted American qualifier Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-2, No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka beat German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 and No. 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan had a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win over Romania's Victor Hanescu.
Also advancing were No. 22 Fernando Verdasco of Spain, No. 26 Jurgen Melzer of Austria and No. 32 Julien Benneteau of France, who ousted rising Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
Williams played with power and determination, and took command of the match with a steady stream of winners and powerful serves.
Williams had skipped last year's Australian Open due to illness and was warmly welcomed with applause as she entered the court. She had the biggest jump of any of the top players in 2012, moving from outside the top 100 to finish the year at No. 24.
Williams, who has won seven major titles, said she was happy with the match statistics, particularly her serve, so early in the season.
"It's hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure,' she said. "I did my best to just close it out."
Her younger sister, Serena, was sitting in the crowd. Serena is the strong favorite to win the Australian Open, heading into the tournament with 35 wins in her past 36 matches including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the U.S. Open.
No. 3-ranked Serena Williams is in the top half of the draw with Azarenka, and the pair won't start until Tuesday.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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