Maria Sharapova Flops at Australian Open

Former champion Maria Sharapova was a high profile casualty at the Australian Open on Monday but there were no dramas for Rafael Nadal and Dinara Safina who led the charge into the second round, AFP reports

Britain's Andy Murray and American Andy Roddick also cruised through, as did comeback queens Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin on a day plagued by persistent rain delays with numerous matches unable to finish.

Sharapova was a shadow of her former self in a 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-4 defeat to Maria Kirilenko.

It was a disastrous start to the year for the underdone 22-year-old, seeded 14, who opted to only play exhibitions in Thailand and Hong Kong as a warm-up to the opening Grand Slam of the season.

"I certainly had my chances and just didn't execute," she said. "There is no grey area. It was just up and down in many areas, and just finished at the down level."

The pin-up won here in 2008 but was deprived of defending her title last year after failing to recover from shoulder surgery which kept her out of action until May.