Eugenie Bouchard's hopes of a first WTA Premier title at the Madrid Open were ended at the quarter-final stage by the ruthless Svetlana Kuznetsova on Thursday.
The Canadian has been showing signs of a return to the sort of form that saw her reach the 2014 Wimbledon final but was unable to secure passage to the final four as Kuznetsova powered her way to a 6-4 6-0 triumph in the Spanish capital.
Doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic is next up for the world number nine, while Simona Halep coasted past Coco Vandeweghe 6-1 6-1 and will face Anastasija Sevastova - a 6-3 6-3 winner against Kiki Bertens - in the other semi-final.
KUZNETSOVA ENDS BOUCHARD RUN
At a media conference on Wednesday, Kuznetsova said the picture behind the scenes in Madrid was quite different to the one Bouchard painted of widespread support for her ahead of her second-round match with Maria Sharapova.
The 23-year-old progressed past another former world number one in Angelique Kerber to reach the quarter-finals, but Kuznetsova brought her crashing back down to earth in the final match of the day.
A rain delay in the second set did not halt the Russian's momentum as she swiftly secured a bagel upon the resumption of play to set up her match with the in-form Mladenovic.
HALEP PRIMED FOR DEFENCE
Reigning champion Halep is the highest seed remaining in the competition and breezed past Coco Vandeweghe in just 59 minutes on Thursday.
After back-to-back three-setters against Roberta Vinci and Samantha Stosur, such a quick outing should have provided relief, but the Romanian feels grinding out results is making her stronger.
"In the last five weeks, I feel different - it's much better," said Halep. "When I finish a match like yesterday [against Stosur], where it was really tough, I don't feel tired.
"That makes me stronger and helps me to understand that it's much better to stay relaxed, not talking and doing other stuff on court."
MLADENOVIC CONTINUES FINE FORM
With a 6-4 6-4 victory over wildcard Sorana Cirstea, Mladenovic made into her second Premier Mandatory semi-final from her last three in 2017.
The French 23-year-old made the final four at Indian Wells, with a first WTA title in St Petersburg and a runner-up finish in Stuttgart making for a highly successful season.