Maria Sharapova once again proved too strong for her old foe Sesil Karatantcheva on Friday as she reached the semi-finals at the grasscourt event in Birmingham with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Back in 2004, an altercation in practice at the Indian Wells event in the United States led to Karatantcheva vowing to kick "her (Sharapova's) butt". But in front of a standing-room only crowd on one of the outer courts, Sharapova beat Karatantcheva in three sets, before thrashing her 6-0, 6-1 in the second round at Wimbledon a year later.
Karatantcheva, the 2004 French Open junior champion, was banned as a 16-year-old for two years for a drugs offence in 2006. The Bulgarian-born player, who now represents Kazakhstan, has always maintained her innocence after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone.
Second seed Sharapova won two matches on Thursday, completing a rain-delayed 6-0, 6-3 victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States and then beating fellow Russian Alla Kudryavtseva 6-3, 6-1. Sharapova, Wimbledon champion in 2004, has won this Wimbledon warm-up event twice before and is seeded to meet China's Li Na in the final.