Russia's Maria Sharapova had to contest a commendable challenge from 17-year-old French wild-card entry Caroline Garcia before reeling off the final 11 games to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-0, on Thursday.
Garcia was the youngest and, at 188th, lowest-ranked woman left, and was playing in only the second tour-level event of her nascent career. Her spirited performance was well appreciated on the court as she took the first set to make her intentions clear although Sharapova later said that she had problems dealing with the windy conditions.
Garcia went onto take a 4-1 lead in the second set to consolidate her early dominance and looked like a veteran and the crowd rallied behind her after she managed 17 groundstroke winners.
The experience of Sharapova though came to her rescue and she managed to end the match in her favour. Appreciation for her young opponent though was a given. "She's on her way up, definitely. It (the result) could have easily gone the other way," she said.
Garcia though was happy with her effort even as she decided to put in a good word for her more experienced competitor. "I had many things going in my head, because I was leading. I was playing well. She was not really in the court," said Garcia, who now will play in the junior tournament. "And then she reacted just like a champion, because she is a great champion."
(with inputs from the Associated Press)