PARIS -- France’s top-ranked woman isn’t being discussed as a potential champion, but that doesn’t mean she can’t win the French Open.

“If I look at the beginning of my season and my history, I know that my level of game can enable me to beat any player, but can I do it over two weeks?” Caroline Garcia said aloud Friday. “I don’t know. I have a question.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a favorite, but do I believe in my chances? Yes.”

That belief was stretched to the absolute limit Sunday before Garcia eventually defeated German qualifier Eva Lys 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. 

Ranked No.145, Lys was trying to secure her second Grand Slam main-draw win in only her third appearance. Garcia, meanwhile, avoided her first opening-round exit here since 2015.

Lys, who won three qualifying matches here last week, was bold and aggressive, taking the ball early and standing sometimes two feet inside the baseline to receive Garcia’s second serves. Playing on Court Phillipe Chatrier, Lys continually muted the sizeable pro-French crowd and seemed on the verge of an upset.

But there was a moment, with Lys serving at 4-all in the second set, when Garcia created her first plausible opening. She ripped a forehand winner and launched into her signature fist-pump-and-scissor-kick combo. But then, serving for the set, was broken. Garcia responded by breaking Lys again -- at love -- and successfully serving it out to level the match.

The third set began with three breaks of serve but Garcia finally held to take a 3-1 lead. Down 4-2, Lys was broken for the sixth and final time.

Garcia, who stands second to Elena Rybakina in aces this year, had 17 for the match -- the last one, a 116 m.p.h. blast, ended the match.

Like World No.1 Iga Swiatek, Garcia is no stranger to the higher orbits of the Hologic WTA Tour. There have been two very distinct high-water marks in her 13-year career. Two years ago, Garcia won three titles -- Bad Homburg, Warsaw and Cincinnati -- and a US Open semifinal in a span of three months and punctuated that by winning the WTA Finals in Fort Worth. She finished the year No.4.

Five years earlier, it was a similar story, with Garcia winning back-to-back WTA 1000s in the fall and qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore. She advanced to the semifinals before losing to Venus Williams.

When she’s at her best, Garcia is a fluid, almost unconscious player, crushing serves and forehands and taking the ball almost impossibly early. That bruising game plays best on hard courts but the French Open, of course, features red clay that isn’t actually conducive to her dashing style.

As a result, her results at Roland Garros have been average. Garcia’s record here is 18-13; her best effort was reaching the quarterfinals in 2017.

“Honestly, I always dreamt of Roland Garros when I was younger, and now I’m lucky to be on the court and to be supported by the French public,” Garcia said. “It’s true also that in the past years the adventure stopped a bit early. I had to play difficult and complicated matches, so every year I want to benefit from each moment, because it’s a great chance and opportunity to play a Grand Slam at home.”

It's been an up-and-down year for Garcia. She won three of four matches at the United Cup in January, split four matches in two other Australian tournaments and then went 0-3 for the Middle East swing. In Miami, though, Garica defeated Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff in back-to-back matches before losing to red-hot Danielle Collins in the quarterfinals. After a semifinal appearance in the Rouen 250 (losing to Sloane Stephens), she split four matches in Madrid and Rome --losing to Collins again in Italy.

Garcia, ponytail tied tight, was relaxed and sometimes funny in her Friday interview attended by some 20 journalists. She acknowledged that she might play mixed doubles at the upcoming Olympics in Paris -- “I have evolved” -- she said, cryptically, but declined to name names. She turned 30 last fall and has banked more than $18 million in official prize money. She already seems to be preparing for the next chapter.

Earlier this year, she unveiled a podcast, “Tennis Insider Club.” The first six episodes have featured Garcia herself, Ons Jabeur, Gael Monfils, Alize Cornet, Andrey Rublev and coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

“The idea was to give the floor to other players and coaches, to share their story and explain what they went through to become great players,” Garcia said. “To know the people behind the players, to show the differences of a journey. If we can inspire one or two persons, it would be a success.

“And then to me, it's a real adventure. I really enjoy it. It takes me out of my comfort zone and enables me to be something else, apart from just a tennis player. And it’s a good thing for my last years and after.”

In the second round, Garcia will take on Sofia Kenin, a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 winner over Laura Siegemund.