- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2011

PARIS (AP) - Maria Sharapova looked done and dusted as the wind swirled on center court and played havoc with her serve.

Then, just when it seemed she had no chance against her 17-year-old opponent at the French Open, the seventh-seeded Russian got the break she needed.

And then another, and another, and then three more in the third set, helping Sharapova win 11 straight games and defeat French wild card Caroline Garcia 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 Thursday.

“I just never think that the match is over until it actually is,” Sharapova said. “I think that no matter what situation you’re put in, no matter how good or bad you feel, you’ve got to finish the match.

“More than anything I was just trying to be more consistent.”

However, her situation on the red clay at the windy Court Philippe Chatrier looked shaky for a while.

Sharapova’s serve was broken the first three times she tossed the ball over her head in the first set, and then again twice in the second.

That gave Garcia a 6-3, 4-1 lead _ and on serve to make it 5-1.

“I was way too concerned about the conditions and wasn’t moving my feet and just was really slow, and she was playing aggressive and hitting great shots. I just felt flat-footed in the beginning,” Sharapova said of her opening malaise. “I just hit the ball, finally.”

And then didn’t stop until it was over.

“It could have easily gone the other way today, but I think I knew I had to make an adjustment,” Sharapova said. “More than anything, I felt like I really stepped up. And that was needed if I wanted to win this match.”

Garcia is a rising star on the French tennis scene. She reached the second round at the Australian Open in January in her tour-level debut.

The French Open is only her second tournament, and she again got through the first round.

Against Sharapova, she played much of the match with her confidence high, finding every corner of the court and placing her shots just out of her opponent’s reach.

“I was not giving any points to her, and I was very accurate,” Garcia said. “And I was hitting hard in areas she doesn’t like because she’s tall, so it’s difficult for her.”

Garcia’s stellar play early in the match has already drawn praise from one her fellow players, Australian Open finalist Andy Murray.

“Girl sharapova is playing is going to be No.1 in world one day caroline garcia, what a player u heard it here 1st,” the fourth-seeded Murray tweeted after he beat Simone Bolelli of Italy 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-5.

Sharapova couldn’t really disagree.

“It’s a long road and a long journey,” said the 24-year-old Russian, who needs only the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam. “There will be many wins and many losses. It’s tough for me to tell, but she’s on her way up, definitely.”

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