The second-seeded Russian star, coming off her first clay-court title last week at Amelie Island, is looking for her fourth tournament victory of the year.
"I played a lot tennis in Amelia last week," Sharapova said. "You just try to get the job done out there and do it as fast as you can and hopefully get the 'W' and leave."
Wednesday night's performance on the green clay at Daniel Island was a long way from the 20-year-old Russian's first appearance in Charleston. In 2003, she made the field as a qualifier only to lose in the first round.
"I was walking around the grounds the other day looking at some of the courts I played on and some of the back courts I played on five years ago and thought how things have changed, for the good," the 19-time tour winner said.
Sharapova will face Tatiana Perebiynis of the Ukraine on Thursday.
Earlier, defending champion Jelena Jankovic overcame a slow start to beat American Alexandra Stevenson 7-5, 6-0.
The Serb was broken at love in the first game and managed only two points in the second. Trailing 5-4 in the first set, she rattled off nine straight games to win the match.
"I'm just trying to get my timing," said Jankovic, who got her first Tier 1 victory here last year. "It's a different game. The points are longer. You really have to know how to move well.
"It's my first match on clay and I didn't know what to expect from myself," said Jankovic, who is ranked No. 5 in the world. "First matches are always tough, but I was able to play a little better in the second set. Hopefully, throughout the tournament I will play better."
In other matches at the $1.3 million tournament, fourth-seeded
Elena Dementieva defeated Jill Craybas 6-0, 6-2; No. 7 Patty Schnyder defeated Olga Govortsova 7-6 (2), 6-0, and No. 9 Vera Zvonareva eliminated Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-1, 6-0.
Conditions in Charleston were better following Tuesday's blustery matches. The temperatures climbed into the upper 60s and, although still breezy at about 15 mph, the wind was down from Tuesday's gusts of up to 30 mph.