Sharapova sails into Tianjin semi-finals

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Maria Sharapova moved a step closer to claiming her first title since returning from a doping ban by outclassing Stefanie Voegele to reach the semi-finals of the Tianjin Open.

The five-time grand slam champion needed only an hour and four minutes to wrap up a 6-3 6-1 victory on Friday.

Sharapova will play defending champion Peng Shuai in her first semi-final since reaching the last four in Stuttgart on her comeback from a 15-month suspension six months ago.

The unseeded Russian has not dropped a set this week and recovered from an uncertain start to see off Voegele, who took advantage of three unforced errors and a double fault to break in the first game of the match but that was as good as it got for the qualifier.

Sharapova lost just one point on serve in the first set after failing to hold in the opening game, breaking to level at 1-1 and again to lead 5-3 before serving out the set.

The former world number one bossed the second set, surging into a 4-0 lead as she wasted no time in dispatching Voegele.

Peng stayed in the hunt to retain her title on home soil with a brutal 6-0 6-1 demolition of Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The third seed took just an hour to move into the last four, losing only nine points on serve in a quarter-final which was something of a non-contest.

Aryna Sabalenka and Sara Errani will meet in the other semi-final following victories over Zhu Lin and Christina McHale respectively.