Sharapova had a relatively average start to the match against Eugenie Bouchard - the two held serve in the first three games, leaving Bouchard up, 2-1. But Sharapova went on maximum overdrive from there, winning 11 games in a row for a 62 60 victory. Sharapova won 27 of 29 points in one stretch.
"It's always tough transitioning to the first match of a new tournament, especially after the great week I had in Palm Springs," Sharapova said afterwards. "Everything's different - the stadium is different, the weather's different - so obviously I'm happy I was able to play well in my first match tonight."
With Victoria Azarenka's withdrawal earlier in the day, Sharapova is left as a strong favorite to reach the final on her half of the draw - but the four-time runner-up is hoping for one better this time.
"I've had good success at this tournament," Sharapova said. "I haven't won it, but I've been to a few finals. I'd love to take it further and win this tournament - it would really mean a lot to me.
"Today was a good start."
There was one distraction, though - a lengthy rain delay and a power outage, too. "I was just trying to find a quiet corner where I could just rest and wait it out, I guess," Sharapova said. "I've been on the tour for many years and I've been part of a few delays. Maybe not a power outage, but you treat it as maybe a rain delay and as soon as you have to get out just do a quick warm-up and be ready."
"We haven't faced each other in a long while," Sharapova said. "It's always tough to play against a compatriot. She has a tough game, very flat strokes, but I'm really looking forward to it. I just have to be competitive and play my game and be aggressive, and we'll see how it goes on Sunday."
Other seeds winning later on were No.12 seed Ana Ivanovic, who beat Urszula Radwanska, 62 61; No.14 seed Maria Kirilenko, who toughed out a 41-minute second set to beat American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 61 64; No.22 seed Jelena Jankovic, who broke Victoria Duval back at 5-4 in the second set and eventually finished the American wildcard off in straight sets, 63 75; and No.32 seed Alizé Cornet, who was a game away from losing down 75 54 but edged Laura Robson, 57 75 61.
The only upset later on in the day saw Simona Halep beat No.26 seed Tamira Paszek, 61 67(4) 75, fighting back from a break down in the third set to win her second straight marathon of the week - she also won 7-5 in the third set in the first round against former Top 15 player Sabine Lisicki.