French Open: Sharapova, Radwanska breeze into Round 3
Paris: Maria Sharapova battled past Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 6-2 to reach the French Open third round yesterday.
Following the shock exit of defending champion Serena Williams earlier in the day and China's second seed Li Na's elimination 24 hours earlier, the Russian star is the leading favourite to take the 2014 title in Paris.
However, the Russian four-time Grand Slam winner, who won Roland Garros in 2012, will have to raise her game after an alarming 27 unforced errors.
The 27-year-old 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 No 8 now faces Romania's Monica Niculescu or Paula Ormaechea of Argentina for a place in the Last 16.
Easy for Radwanska
Meanwhile, third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland also reached the French Open third round with an easy 6-3, 6-4 win over Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.
Radwanska will face Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the Last 16.
Curtains for Cornet
However, it was the end of the road for the 20th seed Alize Cornet as she was beaten by Taylor Townsend.
The 18-year-old's victory, coming on a day when the Williams sisters exited, gave the USA a glimpse of a bright future when the World No 205, making her Grand Slam debut, knocked out French 20th seed Alize Cornet, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Left-hander Townsend held her nerve after squandering a 4-1 lead in the second set and 5-1 advantage in the decider to take victory on a fifth match point with her scintillating brand of tennis yielding 43 winners as well as 55 unforced errors. "The sky's the limit," said the violin-playing teenager.
> Dominika Cibulkova (9) bt Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-4
> Carla Suarez (14) bt Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 1-6, 6-4
> Johanna Larsson bt Flavia Pennetta (12) 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
> Eugenie Bouchard (18) bt Julia Gorges 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
> Daniela Hantuchova bt Claire Feuerstein 6-1, 6-4
> angelique Kerber (8) bt Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 7-5