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When Sharapova met Bouchard… aged eight!

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Maria Sharapova takes on Eugenie Bouchard at Roland Garros on Thursday for a place in French Open final.

And despite the fact that they are just 27 and 20 years old respectively, the match will be played an astonishing 12 years after they first came face-to-face.

Bouchard was an eager eight-year-old autograph hunter back in 2002, and pounced upon the 15-year-old Sharapova as she played in her very first professional tournament.

Sharapova was already tipped for the top, even though her breakthrough victory at Wimbledon was still two years away.

But she showed the grace and charm that have won her millions of fans as she happily smiled for a photo with Bouchard - a photo that has now been shared online as the Canadian earned a spot in a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time.

The picture has quickly gone viral on the internet, with Bouchard herself sharing it via Twitter alongside a picture of her and Sharapova taken a few months ago:

It's not the first time the pair have met on the court - nor indeed their first meeting at Roland Garros. And for the record, Sharapova beat Bouchard in both their previous encounters, which came last year at WTA Miami (6-2 6-0) and the French Open (6-2 6-4).

Those results make Sharapova the favourite - but a meeting in a Grand Slam semi-final is a very different thing to an early-round encounter... particularly given Bouchard's emergence as a force in the women's game over the past 12 months.

And who knows? If she wins, perhaps someone will ask Bouchard if her eight-year-old self ever thought - even for a fraction of a second - that she would be taking on the willowy Russian a dozen years later in one of the sport's finest arenas.

Watch the French Open on British Eurosport and Eurosport Player.

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