| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Maria Sharapova made a convincing start to her U.S. Open title campaign on Monday and then turned comedian as she revealed her build-up had been affected by a "pregnancy" scare.
The Russian was forced to miss events in Montreal and Cincinnati earlier this month because of a stomach bug she first felt on the eve of the Olympic final, in which she lost to Serena Williams.
"I had some tests done, some blood-work, some ultrasound stuff," Sharapova told reporters after her 6-2 6-2 win over Melinda Czink of Hungary.
"They said I should just probably rest. I just went home and took Cincinnati off as well. I think it was just a sign that I needed a few weeks off.
"It was really weird. They told me I was fine, not pregnant. I'm like, Can I get my money back?"
Sharapova was reluctant to use the bug as an excuse for the Olympic final, where she was hammered 6-0 6-1 by Williams.
"It was worse when I got to Montreal," the third seed said.
"At the end of the day, I think it was some stomach bug. But I thought it was getting better. Then I started eating like the normal Maria and it wasn't better."
The rest seemed to have done her good though as the Russian coped well with a testing wind and humid conditions to see off Czink with the minimum of fuss.
Sharapova broke twice to win the first set and reeled off the last three games to set up a clash with Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain in the second round.
"I was just happy to be back playing a competitive match," she said.
"Its been a few weeks. It was a nice break in a way but after so many weeks of practicing, you're just eager to get back on the court.
"The tournament almost seems a little bit easier because the practice is a little bit shorter getting ready to play matches. It's so much better than having practice weeks, to be honest.
"But I was happy with the way I came out. I'd never played my opponent before, a lefty, conditions weren't exactly perfect.
"Overall I played steady, but there's room for improvement, that's for sure."
The 25-year-old is chasing her second grand slam title of the year, having won the French Open in June to complete a career set of all four grand slam titles.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)