18 January, 2018
Sharapova, now ranked 48th, is one of two Australian Open champions in the women's field.
It will be a meeting of the only two former champions in the women's draw, with Sharapova lifting the trophy a decade ago while Kerber was the victor in 2016. "There were no decisions being made, there was no talk of boycotts or anything like that - that's all I can say really".
The heat was intensifying earlier when six-time champion Novak Djokovic extended his personal streak against Gael Monfils to 15-0 with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 victory in which both players slouched over in the shade at the back of the court between points.
"A month ago I didn't know if I was going to come to Australia or not because the elbow was still not prepared for this level of competition", Djokovic, playing his first match since Wimbledon previous year, said in an on-court interview. I was absent for for one month maximum at any time in tennis and not missed a Grand Slam.
"I'm proud to be back already", he said after his match.
Kerber had a standout 2016 when she won in Australia, beating Serena Williams in the final, to become the first German since Steffi Graf in 1999 to claim a Grand Slam.
The player also had the easiest of rides in her on-stage interview.
She said: "I just want to wait for tomorrow, to see how I wake up".
Former world number one Djokovic made his competitive return to action after a six-month lay off with an elbow injury by outclassing Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-4 in the first round in Melbourne. "I'm still feeling young".
Isle Of Wight Snow And Ice Warning Issued By Met Office
The wind is expected to cause power cuts and the Met Office said "injuries and danger to life from flying debris" were possible. Yellow warnings for snow and ice have been issued for the region by the Met Office for tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday.
"I love Australia. I love the summertime".
"It felt great to be back on the court and compete again", said Djokovic. "A lot of things to smile about".
Sharapova was in no mood to take her time as temperatures soared to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Now I think the work pays off and it's just the beginning of the year".
Women's world number three Garbine Muguruza breezed into the second round with a 6-4 6-3 win over French wildcard Jessika Ponchet.
Halep, who recovered from a 5-2 deficit in the first set, was moving across the baseline in the third game of the second set when her left foot caught on the court surface and she twisted her ankle, tumbling to the ground.
"I'm hoping for it to go well again".
"I was invited to be part of the draw by. the tournament organisation, and I kindly accepted".
This time around the Russian got the job done 6-1 7-6 (7-4) against the 14th seeded Latvian.
Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys ensured they had no problems with the oppressive heat.