Paris: Triple grand slam winner Maria Sharapova avoided Roland Garros humiliation when she recovered from a set and 1-4 down to defeat French 17-year-old, and world 188, Caroline Garcia 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the last 32 on Thursday. (Agencies)
Seventh seed Sharapova, looked set to follow world number two Kim Clijsters who had been knocked out by Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, the world 114, earlier in the day.
But she called on her famed fighting spirit to run off 11 successive games and clinch a match-up against Taiwan's Chan Yung-Jan for a place in the last 16 after a bruising experience on a windswept Philippe Chatrier court.
"She played unbelievable and the conditions were really tough. So I tried to be steady and to adjust the best I could," said Sharapova.
It had been a clincial performance by Garcia, whose 57,000-dollar career earnings pale compared to Sharapova's on-court riches of almost 15 million as she dominated the first half of the tie.
Garcia, the daughter of a Lyon estate agent, was playing in only her second tour level event, having made the second round at the Australian Open on her debut in January.
But she didn't lack confidence having gone into the match against the sport's biggest drawcard confidently backing herself to be number one in the world in the not too distant future.
She regularly found the corners and lines of the famous old court with surgical precision, leaving Sharapova heavy-footed and struggling to find her usual clinical, power game.
Garcia enjoyed three breaks of serve to lead 5-1 in the first set before Sharapova pulled a game back when the French girl was serving for the opener.
But she was not to be denied in the ninth game when Sharapova went wide with a mis-timed, mis-hit backhand.
Garcia was soon 3-1 up in the second set thanks to a break to love in the first game.
That was followed by another break in the fifth to go to 4-1, a game clinched courtesy of a vicious, forehand service return and a dispirited, long Sharapova forehand.
But Sharapova was not going quietly and pulled level at 4-4.
Then a crucial over-rule in her favour at 30-30 in the next game swung the tie firmly in her favour and she did not look back as she romped to victory against a visibly tiring Garcia.
A 10th double fault handed Sharapova three match points and she celebrated victory when her opponent hit long.
Despite her defeat, Garcia's display left experienced observers impressed.
"She's going to be number one in the world one day. What a player," Andy Murray, the British world number four tweeted.
Paris: Triple grand slam winner Maria Sharapova avoided Roland Garros humiliation when she recovered from a set and 1-4 down to defeat French 17-year-old, and world 188, Caroline Garcia 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the last 32 on Thursday.