Paris - Maria Sharapova found a way to win ugly on Wednesday as she overcame difficult conditions to battle past Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 6-2 to reach the French Open third round.
Following the shock exit of defending champion Serena Williams and China's second seed Li Na's elimination 24 hours earlier, the Russian star, 27, is the leading favourite to take the 2014 title.
However the Russian four-time Grand Slam winner, who won Roland Garros in 2012, said cold, blustery conditions were difficult and a reason for her 27 unforced errors.
"I think it's always a challenge to go into a match knowing that it's going to be cold and might be a bit windy. So you have to mentally be prepared for that," said Sharapova, who burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old when she won Wimbledon in 2004.
"Once I got the break back in the first set, I started feeling a bit more aggressive and much better about my game, and I was able to hold that until the end of the match."
When asked about the upsets in the women's draw and an easier route to the final without Williams or Li Na she replied: "I think you always have to follow your path and always 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 in the women but in the men, as well."
Sharapova, who has now won all five meetings against Pironkova, trailed 4-2 in the opening set before reeling off three straight games to take the lead for the first time at 5-4.
An 80 per cent first serve winning percentage helped edge the set and appeared to break the spirit of the Bulgarian.
At 2-2 in the second set, Sharapova again went on a roll, reeling off the next four games to wrap up the match in 1hr 32min.
She improved her record on clay this year to 14 and 1, after wins in Stuttgart and Madrid left her with 31 titles on the WTA circuit.
The world number eight now faces Romania's Monica Niculescu or Paula Ormaechea of Argentina for a place in the last 16.
Their match was suspended with Niculescu leading 6-2, 2-0 when bad light stopped play.
Results on Wednesday at the French Open, the fourth day of the season's second Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros (x denotes seeded player):
Tomas Berdych (CZE x6) bt Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x27) bt Benot Paire (FRA) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2
Tommy Robredo (ESP x17) bt Kenny De Schepper (FRA) 6-2, 6-3, 6-3
John Isner (USA x10) bt Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Radek Stepanek (CZE) bt Mikhail Youzhny (RUS x15) 6-0, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
Ernests Gulbis (LAT x18) bt Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 6-2, 7-5, 6-0
Dmitry Tursunov (RUS x31) bt Sam Querrey (USA) 6-4, 7-5, 6-1
Roger Federer (SUI x4) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Milos Raonic (CAN x8) bt Jir Vesel (CZE) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-1
Gilles Simon (FRA x29) bt Alejandro Gonzlez (COL) 6-4, 6-0, 6-2
Marcel Granollers (ESP) bt Aleksandr Dolgopolov (UKR x20) 1-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2
Martin Klizan (SVK) bt Robin Haase (NED) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 1-6, 7-5
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x13) bt Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 6-2, 6-3, 6-4
Jerzy Janowicz (POL x22) bt Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO x25) bt Tobias Kamke (GER) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0
Novak Djokovic (SRB x2) bt Jrmy Chardy (FRA) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
Steve Johnson (USA) bt Laurent Lokoli (FRA) 4-6, 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-3
Garbie Muguruza (ESP) bt Serena Williams (USA x1) 6-2, 6-2
Anna Karolna Schmiedlov (SVK) bt Venus Williams (USA x29) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
Mona Barthel (GER) bt Sabine Lisicki (GER x16) 6-1, 3-0 - retired (wrist)
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x9) bt Tamira Paszek (AUT) 6-3, 6-4
Samantha Stosur (AUS x19) bt Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) 6-1, 6-3
Maria Sharapova (RUS x7) bt Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 7-5, 6-2
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x3) bt Karolna Plskov (CZE) 6-3, 6-4
Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) bt Elena Vesnina (RUS x32) 7-6 (8/6), 6-2
Taylor Townsend (USA) bt Alize Cornet (FRA x20) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Carla Surez (ESP x14) bt Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 7-5, 1-6, 6-4
Johanna Larsson (SWE) bt Flavia Pennetta (ITA x12) 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
Eugnie Bouchard (CAN x18) bt Julia Goerges (GER) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK x31) bt Claire Feuerstein (FRA) 6-1, 6-4
Angelique Kerber (GER x8) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-2, 7-5