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Sharapova marches into Tianjin semi-finals

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.

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