Tennis: Sharapova marches into French Open third round

Maria Sharapova battled past Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 6-4 to reach the French Open third round on Wednesday.

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 number eight now faces Romania's Monica Niculescu or Paula Ormaechea of Argentina for a place in the last 16.