Sharapova effect sells out Auckland tournament

Wednesday, 5 January 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters  - Maria Sharapova underlined her pulling power on Monday with Auckland Classic organisers confirming they had sold out all of the day sessions for the entire tournament just minutes before she stepped on court for her first round match.

A limited number of tickets for the three night sessions were left available, though all of Sharapova's matches will be played during the day and organisers said it was the first time the tournament, with a total prize pool of just $220,000, had been effectively sold out by the first day.

Sharapova, making her first appearance in New Zealand, received an enormous cheer from the 3,200 fans packed around the revamped centre court, before the former world number one overcame a nervous start to beat Alberta Brianti 6-2 6-3.

The 23-year-old Russian, who will now meet Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic in the second round, said she had been pleased at the Auckland public's reaction to the tournament.