Sharapova starts quickly at Los Angeles tennis

LOS ANGELES: Unseeded Maria Sharapova easily defeated Jarmila Groth of Slovakia 6-0, 6-4 in the first round of the 700,000 dollar WTA Los Angeles Tennis Championship.

Sharapova, whose best finish in this event was two semi-final berths, advances to play third seeded Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

Still trying to recover from major shoulder surgery, Sharapova was one of four Russians to advance on Monday on the hardcourts located in the south central LA suburb of Carson.

Sharapova reached the quarterfinals last week in Stanford.

Russia's Anna Chakvetadze defeated 11th seeded Virginie Razzano of France 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 Monday. Unseeded Chakvetadze advances to face fellow Russian Alisa Kleybanova.

Elena Vesnina cruised past Agnes Szavay of Hungary 6-1, 6-0 and Kleybanova beat compatriot Alla Kudryavtseva 6-1, 6-3.

In other matches Monday, China's Peng Shuai outlasted Michaella Krajicek 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 and Italy's Flavia Pennetta, seeded 10th, needed three sets to top unheralded American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0. Pennetta was last year's runner-up to Dinara Safina, the top seed here.

The tournament features five of the world's top 10 players including world number one Safina of Russia. The 23-year-old Safina is fresh off her third title of the year, winning a marathon three-hour match in the Portoroz final.

The top eight seeded players receive a bye through the first round.

Wild card Vania King, of the US, advanced by stopping Austrian Sybille Bammer 6-3, 6-2, while Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama topped American qualifier Carly Gullickson 6-3, 6-1.