Tianjin (China) (AFP) – Maria Sharapova equalled her best performance since returning from a doping suspension as she breezed into the Tianjin Open semi-finals on Friday.
The Russian easily defeated Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-1 in 64 minutes and the former world number one will face China’s Peng Shuai in the last four.
Sharapova 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.
Peng, the third seed and reigning Tianjin champion, will offer a far sterner test than 196-ranked Voegele.
Home hope Peng thrashed Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0, 6-1 in their quarter-final.