Tennis: Maria Sharapova powers into the Tianjin Open semi-finals

Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return against Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland during their women's singles quarter-final match at the WTA Tianjin Open tennis tournament in Tianjin on Oct 13, 2017.
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return against Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland during their women's singles quarter-final match at the WTA Tianjin Open tennis tournament in Tianjin on Oct 13, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Maria Sharapova swatted aside Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele 6-3 6-1 in just over an hour at the Tianjin Open on Friday (Oct 13) to reach her second semi-final since returning from a 15-month doping ban.

Sharapova was broken in the first game, but fought back to draw level before going on to take the first set with a hold to love.

The former world No. 1, targeting a first title since returning to the Tour in April, raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set as an error-prone Voegele struggled on serve.

Voegele handed Sharapova three match points when she made her eighth double fault of the contest while trailing 5-1.

The Russian sealed the match with a forehand winner and will meet defending champion China's Peng Shuai on Saturday (Oct 14).

Peng eased past Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0 6-1 while Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus beat local hope Zhu Lin 6-3 6-4 in another quarter-final and awaits the winner of the match between Christina McHale and Sara Errani.