Paris - Maria Sharapova admitted on Saturday that "numbers don't lie", after setting up a potential 22nd meeting with Serena Williams, who she has lost to 18 times in a row.
Sharapova crushed sixth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1 in the French Open third round and could next face 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who takes on German 11th seed Julia Goerges later on Saturday.
Serena leads her head-to-head record with Sharapova 19-2, with the Russian's last win coming at the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.
"Any time you play against Serena you know what you're up against," said the 31-year-old Sharapova.
"You know the challenge that is upon you. You know, despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best player.
"I think there is a lot of things in her game that she's done much better than I have... Numbers don't lie."
Sharapova produced one of her best performances since returning from a doping ban, cruising to a totally one-sided win in her first match on Court Philippe Chatrier for three years.
The five-time Grand Slam champion served a 15-month suspension in 2016 and was refused a wildcard in 2017.
"I knew I had to play well against a tough opponent. I managed to stay aggressive and I played smart as well," said Sharapova, who delighted a half-full Chatrier by thanking them for their support in French.
The Russian, winner in Paris in 2012 and 2014, is seeded at a major for the first time since testing positive for meldonium two years ago.
A fired-up Sharapova powered 18 winners past her fellow former world number one Pliskova, with the Czech never threatening any resistance in a match which lasted just 59 minutes.
Sharapova had struggled on serve in her opening wins over Richel Hogenkamp and Donna Vekic, and she was broken in the very first game of the match.
But the Russian, now ranked 30 in the world, utterly dominated the rest of the match against her passive opponent.
She showed guile as well as power too, bringing up match point with a perfect backhand drop shot, perhaps sending a warning to Serena in the process.
Results from day seven of the French Open at Roland Garros on Saturday (x denotes seeding):
Maximilian Marterer (GER) bt Jurgen Zopp (EST) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x11) bt Borna Coric (CRO) 7-5, 6-3, 6-3
Kevin Anderson (RSA x6) bt Mischa Zverev (GER) 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Fabio Fognini (ITA x18) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR x16) 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
Karen Khachanov (RUS) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA x15) 6-3, 7-5, 6-3
Elise Mertens (BEL x16) bt Daria Gavrilova (AUS x24) 6-3, 6-1
Garbine Muguruza (ESP x3) bt Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-0, 6-2
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK x19) 6-2, 6-4
Maria Sharapova (RUS x28) bt Karolina Pliskova (CZE x6) 6-2, 6-1
Anett Kontaveit (EST x25) bt Petra Kvitova (CZE x8) 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4)
Sloane Stephens (USA x10) bt Camila Giorgi (ITA) 4-6, 6-1, 8-6