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When Eugenie Bouchard was smitten by Sharapova...

Last updated on: June 06, 2014 13:04 IST

When Eugenie Bouchard was smitten by Sharapova...

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She once posed for a photograph with an eight-year-old Eugenie Bouchard but that friendly touch was not on show on Thursday as Maria Sharapova wiped the smile off the Canadian's face to set up a French Open final with Simona Halep.

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Image: Eugenie Bouchard poses with Maria Sharapova in 2002 as a fan and in 2013 as a player
Photographs: Courtesy: Eugenie Bouchard/Twitter

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When Eugenie Bouchard was smitten by Sharapova...

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While a 2002 photo of a statuesque Sharapova wrapping her arm around a pixie-like Bouchard has gone viral over the past 48 hours, the Russian hogged the limelight at Roland Garros as she shrieked her way to her third successive Paris final with a 4-6, 7-5 6-2 win.

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Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates victory
Photographs: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

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When Eugenie Bouchard was smitten by Sharapova...

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"Winning a match where I felt my opponent played extremely well, exceptional tennis and I didn't feel that I was playing my best, I fought, I scrambled, and I found a way to win," said seventh seed Sharapova after a third straight win from a set down.

She produced nine double faults, 35 unforced errors and was broken four times in a messy performance but the shot that mattered most was the blazing forehand she sent flying past Bouchard's racket on her fifth match point.

That left the Russian bellowing into the skies while Bouchard, dubbed the 'next Sharapova' was left to reflect on what might have been.

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Image: Eugenie Bouchard of Canada reacts
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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When Eugenie Bouchard was smitten by Sharapova...

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"When you play a great champion, you definitely feel their presence. Often I constructed the point well and then didn't finish it as well as I could," said the 20-year-old, who failed in her bid to become the first Canadian woman to reach a Slam final.

"I had a couple of chances here and there and just didn't take my opportunities when I had a few of them. That's part of the learning experience for me."

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Image: Eugenie Bouchard
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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When Eugenie Bouchard was smitten by Sharapova...

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While Halep will turn up for Saturday's final with a fresher pair of legs, having contested only 12 sets, Sharapova remained undaunted by the fact that she had just survived her third successive three-set duel.

"If some things are not working out, I don't just want to quit in the middle. Because when you lose the first set or a few games or you're down a break, that's not the end of the match," said the Russian, who would have dropped out of the top 10 if she had lost on Thursday.

"That's the type of philosophy that I play with."

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Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her women's semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard of Canada
Photographs: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

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It is mantra that has served her well ever since she won the first of her four grand slam titles a decade ago at Wimbledon and she proved on Thursday that her desire to do well still burns brightly.

Even when Bouchard was serving at 40-0 up in fourth game of the second set, Sharapova kept looking for the angles and her perseverance paid off as she spooked the Canadian into surrendering the game with a double fault.

The drama unfolding on the red clay, however, was not quite gripping enough for a group of spectators sitting on the top row of Philippe Chartrier Court as they opted to lean over the wall and watch a doubles match taking place on an adjoining arena.

However, Sharapova's wails soon grabbed their attention again as the Russian turned up the volume to deafening levels as she fired two doubles faults, squandered three set points and allowed Bouchard to break her in ninth game.

Three games later the war cry of 'Come Oooooonnnnn' echoed around the Bois de Boulogne neighbourhood as Sharapova finally drew level when Bouchard hurled a forehand into the net.

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Image: Maria Sharapova hits a return during her semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Bouchard had shown maturity beyond her years to unsettle Sharapova for much of the contest but her inexperience on the big stage finally showed at 2-1 down in the third set.

Perhaps distracted by a booming male voice from the crowds that urged "Come on Genie, come on", she blasted a forehand into the net on break point down despite an open court gaping.

That effectively ended the fight Bouchard had within her as Sharapova booked her place in a ninth Grand Slam final.


Image: Eugenie Bouchard reacts after missing out on a point during the semi-final match against Maria Sharapova
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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