#Maria Sharapova's comeback from a 15-month drug ban - could not have been scripted much better by her own publicists. Firstly, At Stuttgart, Maria was able to cruise into the semi-final in her first tournament back from her absence by sweeping aside opponents she couldn't have chosen better herself.

She started this with Roberta Vinci who had only taken a handful of games from the Russian in two prior meetings followed by unseeded opponents, Makarova and Kontaveit, before losing to an inspired Mladenovic in the semis. Add to that the fact that Sharapova and her harshest critic, #Eugenie Bouchard secured first round victories over seventeenth seed Lucic-Baroni and Alice Cornet, respectively.

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These victories - Bouchard's first for a while, have set up this mouthwatering second round clash in the WTA Mutua Madrid Open. Can it live up to the billing?

Bouchard v Sharapova - the previous

The verbal history between this pair actually started in the most cordial way in 2015, ahead of Bouchard's march to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open 2015. Sharapova said she hoped the chirpy Canadian would be allowed to follow her own path and carve out her own career. This was in response to commentators dubbing her the "new Sharapova." It was also before Maria trounced her in the said quarter-final.

The above historical statement has taken on new meaning now - after Bouchard labeled Sharapova a cheater. "I think from the WTA it sends the wrong message to young kids: cheat and we'll welcome you back with open arms," she said.

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Of course, Sharapova and her camp are not ones to sit back and soak up the frustrations of other players. She responded by claiming to be "way above that." Well, we shall see on Monday if she is way above Bouchard. Of course, the head-to-head record is heavily biased in Maria's favour at 4-0, featuring two clay court victories at the French Open in 2013 and 2014.

This match is starting to become reminiscent of old rivalries such as the Milan or the Liverpool derby in football. Form often goes out of the window. The "#Genie Army" will be praying that this match will be the springboard from which Bouchard can return to the form of 2014.

Prediction Sharapova vs Bouchard

Even the proudest and the boldest member of the "Genie Army" would struggle with any confidence to say that "Genie" will prevail in this one. Maybe Wimbledon or a grass court tournament at the very least will be the chance for "Genie" to chalk up a victory over Sharapova.

That said, recourse to the bookies may be the opportunity for a moral victory. The online betting firm 32RED offer odds of 21/20 for Bouchard to win the match with a 5.5 games handicap start (just deduct 5.5 games from Sharapova's winning margin - should she win, of course). This, for me, is the opportunity for those backing Bouchard to do so - go "Genie".