A strong start to the match saw Sharapova ease her was to the first set 6-1. However, the second seed began to lose her grip as she lost the second set 6-4, and looked out of the contest when Panova had two match points in the third.
While others may have weltered, Sharapova surged back, breaking Panova twice as she reeled off three straight games to take the deciding set 7-5.
It was an incredible win that underlined one of the many reasons that Sharapova is so dangerous.
Speaking to the press later in the day after securing a victory of his own, Sharapova's boyfriend. Grigor Dimitrov provided a profound assessment of his partner.
"I think days like that defines who you are. It's simple," he said.
And what is the definition of Sharapova?
Dimitrov responded: "I think I should be the last person to sort of judge that, but I think you can't name one thing in particular with her. I think she's been fighting throughout all those years, through everything that is in her way, jumped all the hurdles and all the obstacles. By far the greatest fighter ever."
When asked about why she fights so hard, Sharapova's answer was simple: I don't like to lose.
"I don't know, but I like winning more than I like losing," she said when asked where her mental strength came from.
What is important now for Sharapova is that she pushes on from her come-from-behind win.
A clash with Zarina Diya on Friday provides the perfect opportunity to underline her star quality, and more than just her fight.