The last time they played, Sharapova barely scraped by Hantuchova at Stanford three years ago, rallying from 2-0 down in the third to win. This time was the total opposite as the No.1-seeded Sharapova won the first eight games of the match and barely looked back for a 60 61 victory.
"I had a tough first opponent who can play extremely good tennis," Sharapova said. "I wanted to start the match off well. It was extremely important to put that pressure on her from the beginning.
"I think I did that really well today."
Another thing she did really well was hit aces. Sharapova hit a whopping 10 in the match, including to close out her first three service games in the first set. She had just two double faults on the day.
"It's quite an adjustment coming here," Sharapova commented. "I lost quite early in Australia, so it gave me a little bit more time to get ready for this event, to catch up on jet lag and get through that. I've had some good practices on center court here as well. It's a pretty small venue so you want to get as much center court time as you can, and take it a step at a time and focus on each and every match.
"I like playing on all types of different surfaces though, and a smaller venue is a bit more intimate too. I have enjoyed playing on these types of courts in the past. For the fans it's a unique experience to see the players a little bit closer than they would see them on the bigger arenas, so it's really nice."
There were more surprises as the first round wrapped up earlier in the day, with French wildcard Kristina Mladenovic serving up 11 aces to beat No.5 seed Simona Halep, 76(1) 64, and Elina Svitolina regrouping after a disastrous second set to take out No.6 seed Roberta Vinci in three, 63 06 75.
Mladenovic's win over the No.10-ranked Halep was the second Top 10 win of her career, her first coming at this same tournament a year ago against Petra Kvitova. And Svitolina's win over the No.14-ranked Vinci was her second Top 20 win, her first coming two weeks ago against Svetlana Kuznetsova.