Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova stormed into the semi-finals of the Shenzhen Open after clinching a comfortable straight-sets win over Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan here on 4 January.
The five-time Grand Slam champion, who is unseeded for the tournament which acts as a warm-up to the Australian Open, remained dominated throughout the match as she eased past world No 66 Diyas 6-3, 6-3 in a thrilling clash.
Despite the win, Sharapova said that though she eventually ended as the winner of the match, she failed to play at the best of her abilities.
"I'm glad that I ended up being the winner of the match. I didn't play my best tennis and there's certainly a lot of things to improve on in the next. The great thing is that I'm through and have another chance to play tomorrow," the WTA quoted Sharapova, as saying.
Sharapova smashed 24 winners and five aces, while making just 22 unforced errors to clinch victory in one and a half hour.
Sharapova, who has climbed to 59 in the world rankings since making her return to tennis in April following a 15-month doping ban, will now square off with either of the Czech pair of Kristyna Pliskova or Katerina Siniakova for a place in the finals.