Defending champion Francesca Schiavone battled from a set and 4-1 down to defeat Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and reach the French Open semi-finals on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old, who became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title when she triumphed last year, clinched a 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 win in a mistake-strewn quarter-final that featured 13 breaks of serve and 79 unforced errors.
Fifth seed Schiavone will face either Russian 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, or 11th-seeded Marion Bartoli of France for a place in the final.
Schiavone was broken twice on her way to a 4-0 deficit in the opener before 19-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, the 2006 world junior champion, clinched a third break in the key seventh game to take the set 6-1.
But her greater experience paid off in the second set when she overturned a 4-1 deficit to win six of the next seven games to level the tie as the Russian's game fell apart.
In a topsy-turvy final set, which featured seven breaks of serve, the Italian went to 5-1 before squandering a chance to serve for the match at 5-2 when she was broken to love.
Pavlyuchenkova held for 4-5 and broke to level at 5-5 before lazily handing the initiative back to Schiavone in the 11th game. The Russian saved one match point with a wrong-footing forehand off a short approach and another with a forehand off a weak second serve.
A deft drop shot took the Italian to a third match point, however, and she celebrated victory when Pavlyuchenkova batted back a tame backhand that was eagerly gobbled up by the champion.
Sharapova keen on making a mark
Maria Sharapova has vowed to put years of claycourt under-achievement behind her, starting with victory over German 15th seed Andrea Petkovic in Wednesday's French Open quarterfinals. She has tasted success at Wimbledon (2004), the US Open (2006) and the Australian Open (2008), but her best Roland Garros showing is a straight sets semi-final defeat to Ana Ivanovic in 2007.
"I've always said it would be challenging to win here but I've always worked hard on preparing myself as best as I could," said Sharapova.