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Sharapova into Tianjin quarters

MARIA Sharapova overpowered Poland’s Magda Linette to enter the quarterfinals of the Tianjin Open yesterday and is targeting a first title since returning from a 15-month doping ban.

The former world No. 1 prevailed 7-5, 6-3 and will make her first quarterfinals appearance since Stuttgart in April, where she lost to Kristina Mladenovic in the next round.

Sharapova, who was beaten by Simona Halep in the third round of the China Open last week, took a 4-3 lead in the first set before Linette hit back. But the Russian broke her rival in the 12th game to take a 1-0 lead.

Ranked 15 places below world No. 71 Linette because of her absence from the tour, the 30-year-old appeared in control in the next set despite conceding an early break.

The five-time grand slam champion broke back twice and held on to set up a clash with Swiss qualifier Stefanie Vogele, who beat Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 6-3.

Meanwhile, defending champion Peng Shuai beat compatriot Wang Xiyu 6-2, 6-2 while Italy’s Sara Errani got past Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

In China’s Hong Kong, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and top seed Elina Svitolina, who have both qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals, withdrew from the Hong Kong Open through injury yesterday.

Wozniacki pulled out before her match against Lizette Cabrera with elbow pain, giving the Australian teenager a free passage into the quarterfinals.

Svitolina failed to recover from a right leg injury to start her match against world No. 114 American Nicole Gibbs.

“I did everything I could possibly to get ready for today but unfortunately I hurt my elbow during practice and there was no way I could perform my best... unfortunately I have to withdraw from the tournament,” Wozniacki said.

Wozniacki, who beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round, and Svitolina have already booked their places in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore from October 22-29.

Jennifer Brady upset Chinese 8th seed Zhang Shuai 6-3 6-4 to advance to the last eight. She was joined by Wang Qiang who beat Thai Luksika Kumkhum 6-4 6-4.

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