Maria marches into semis
TIANJIN: Maria Sharapova equalled her best performance since returning from a doping suspension as she breezed into the Tianjin Open semi-finals yesterday.
The Russian easily defeated Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-1 in 64 minutes and the former World No 1 will face China’s Peng Shuai in the last four.
Maria returned in April from a 15-month suspension for taking the banned substance meldonium.
In her first tournament back, in Stuttgart, she made it to the semi-finals but has been unable to repeat that feat again, until now.
The 30-year-old, ranked 86 in the world, was granted a wildcard for Tianjin because her ranking was too low.
“Obviously she really likes playing here and is the defending champion so she feels really good about the court and the atmosphere,” Maria said of Peng Shuai.
Peng Shuai, the third seed and reigning Tianjin champion, will offer a far sterner test than 196ranked Stefanie.
Home hope Peng Shuai thrashed Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0, 6-1 in their quarterfinal.
In the other semi-final on Saturday, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus plays Italian qualifier Sara Errani. AFP