The length of Nadal’s battle with little-known German Daniel Brands, where the Spaniard was close to being two sets down before turning things round, contributed to Sharapova’s match against Hsieh Su-wei being moved from Court Philippe Chatrier.
Suzanne Lenglen has been a troublesome venue for the Russian in the past but she needed only 53 minutes to overpower Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh 6-2, 6-1 and set up a clash with rising Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard.
Sharapova said: “I was just happy that I was able to finish the match. Obviously getting off the court and seeing the men’s match was still playing, I was happy with the decision that everyone made.”
Last year's victory was Sharapova’s first Roland Garros title, and she added: “It’s nice to come back to a place where you feel like you’re part of its history, where your name will always be ingrained somewhere on the wall or on the trophy. It’s a really nice feeling.”