PARIS, France - Now the favorite at the French Open in the eyes of many after a rash of upsets, Maria Sharapova overcame a first set hole for a win over Tsvetana Pironkova and a berth in the third round.
The top quarter of the draw was suddenly wide open with defending champion Serena Williams' upset loss earlier in the day, but the seventh-seeded Sharapova would need to be wary of joining who had been her potential quarterfinal opponent on the sidelines. That's because second round foe Pironkova was no stranger to upsets, with 11 Top 10 wins to her credit, including several in Grand Slams.
It looked like it could be a long day for Sharapova when she went down 4-2 in the first set. But she found her form and won five of the next six games, finishing off the set with a backhand that caught the netcord and dribbled over the net. Then from 2-2 in the second set, she won the last four games of her 7-5, 6-2 triumph.
By The Numbers
Though she and Pironkova each had 27 unforced errors, Sharapova led the winners category, 22 to 11. She also won 23 of 29 first serve points en route to improving to 5-0 against Pironkova.
Sharapova is now 49-4 in her last 53 clay court matches and is 14-1 on the dirt this season.
"I started off quite cold, wasn't moving my feet enough and just didn't have a good rhythm," Sharapova said. "Once I got the break back, I started feeling much better about my game, and I was able to hold that until the end of the match.
"You have to follow your path and concentrate on your work and who's ahead of you and not get worried about what's going on. Obviously when you go on court you're aware of a lot of the upsets, not just among the women, but with the men as well. So it's great to get a win in that type of atmosphere."