Gunning for a seventh Australian Open title, he was glad to be back at the coal face, having missed the competitive edge.
"I get shivers", said Sharapova. "I thought, it is going to be a big challenge for both of us".
Meanwhile, former world number one and Serbian tennis maestro Novak Djokovic celebrated his long-awaited return to the grand slam with a thrilling 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over American Donald Young, earlier in the day. But he also happens to be someone that Djokovic has beaten in all 14 ATP-level matches they've played, dating back to 2005.
"We wanted to use this opportunity to speak about certain subjects and see how everyone reacts to that and I guess see what opinions are", said the Serb. "I played flawless tennis, like I never stopped".
Six-time champion Novak Djokovic showed iron-man stamina as he battled hothouse conditions to overcome tired Frenchman Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
No 4-ranked Alexander Zverev and No 7 David Goffin advanced, but No 20 Roberto Bautista Agut lost to fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist here in 2009, and former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic lost 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to Lukas Lacko.
The temperature peaked at 40C just after 2pm on Friday, with the situation made tougher for players by hot, gusting northerly winds. That left only Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber - who will meet in the next round - and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko as Grand Slam winners in the women's draw.
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Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe were all eliminated on Monday. The Spaniard beat Tim Smyczek of the U.S. 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).
Brengle's loss is the tenth for American women at this year's tournament that included the elimination of Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens on Monday.
Sharapova was unstoppable in racing through the first set 6-1 before a battle in the second to prevail 7-6 (7/4), proving she must again be taken seriously. "You use it as a measuring stick". "I want to. go out there and do some damage".
Risky sixth seed Karolina Pliskova also went through, dropping just two games against Beatriz Haddad Maia. Kerber is off to a really strong start this season after a disappointing season a year ago that had many questioning if her 2016 was a fluke.
Anastasija Sevastova and Maria Sharapova met twice past year, once at the US Open and the other at the China Open.
Like Djokovic, Sharapova looked sharp in her return to Melbourne after a year away.
"I've got shivers", Sharapova said of playing again at Melbourne Park. "In general, I'm really happy to get through a match like that, to fight the way I did today, to win the match like this".