Millennium Post

Maria, Jankovic renew old childhood rivalry

Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic, who fine-tuned their fierce rivalry as youngsters uprooted from Europe to Nick Bollettieri’s Florida production line, duel for a spot in the French Open semifinals on Wednesday.  Defending champion Sharapova has an imposing 7-1 career lead over Jankovic but this will be their first meeting on clay -- and it should be a feisty affair.

Both women were juniors at Bollettieri’s with Sharapova arriving from Russia as a nine-year-old while Jankovic was 12 when she pitched up from Belgrade to work with the renowned US coach. Both are former world number ones, but it’s Sharapova who has four Grand Slam titles as well as staggering riches. ‘We played against each other quite a bit in the juniors, all the time.

We spent a lot of time together. We were in the same group,’ recalled Sharapova of her time with the Serb in the United States. ‘We were playing matches and tournaments against each other. So we know each other quite well.’

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