If the powerbrokers in women's tennis had a say in it they would jump at the chance of a Maria Sharapova versus Ana Ivanovic final at the French Open on June 7.
The two glamour girls of the sport have the youthful talent, movie-star good looks and contrasting personalities to forge a compelling rivalry that could bankroll the women's game for years to come.
One is a 21-year-old blonde, ranked first in the world and the most famous and best-paid woman in sport. The other is six months younger, brunette and full of ambition to usurp the top ranking.
Sharapova is explosive, sometimes moody at press conferences and single-minded. Ivanovic is niceness personified, a beaming smile never far away and ever courteous to players and press alike.
They have met five times before, most notably in the Australian Open final in January when Sharapova won 7-5, 6-3, but this will be the first Grand Slam event since the sudden retirement of Justine Henin, a development that leaves them as the top two ranking players in the world.
Sharapova, who won Wimbledon in 2004 when she was just 17, says she welcomes the new faces headed by Ivanovic that are arriving on to the scene.
"I am now playing against girls that are younger than I am. A little while ago - seems like it was yesterday - I was the young one. Now 50 percent of the girls I play against are already younger than me.
"But it's great to see a newer generation coming up and I guess making tennis exciting. They are challenging the top players and trying to find their own ways and paths to the top."
For her part, Ivanovic, who has notably been shedding her "squeaky-clean-girl-next-door image" in recent months with a series of sultry magazine photo shoots, feels she is getting closer all the time to making a Grand Slam breakthrough.
"Since Berlin last year I feel I have improved so much and I have matured a lot on the court and in my game," she said.
"So I feel I'm playing more consistent, and also I had lots of wins over top players, which for sure gives me confidence.
"This is the best time of my career so far, the highest I've been ranked and the best tennis I've been playing. I just want to keep the hard work up, and the results also. Hopefully make even one more step at a Grand Slam and win a title."
To do that though she will also have to match Sharapova in the mental stakes, the Russian being one of the most ruthless of competitors when she gets her nose in front.
Ivanovic, in contrast, actually broke Henin's serve in the opening game of last year's final here and was 40-0 in the following game when one dodgy ball toss turned her into a bundle of nerves. She eventually lost 6-1, 6-2.
"It just hit me where I was in that single moment as I tossed the ball up to serve," she said.
"I started to think 'Oh, my God, don't panic now' and the more I thought about it the more I panicked.
"You just don't know if it will happen again, but I will definitely know how to deal with it better."



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