Azarenka eases into Kremlin Cup last four

Azarenka reached the Kremlin Cup semi-finals, thrashing Alisa Kleybanova.

Moscow: Second seed Victoria Azarenka reached the Kremlin Cup semi-finals with a 6-1 6-3 thrashing of home hope Alisa Kleybanova on Friday.

The powerful Belarussian, known for her loud grunting on the court, dispatched the seventh-seeded Russian in less than 100 minutes to set up a Saturday clash with Spanish number eight seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who eliminated Slovakia`s Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-3.

"I took the initiative right from the start and never let her into the match," Azarenka told reporters. "I think I`m finding my top form at just the right moment."

The world number 10 had already secured her place in next week`s season-ending WTA championships in Doha when American Serena Williams pulled out with a foot injury.

The second women`s semi-final will be an all-Russian affair after sixth seed Maria Kirilenko overpowered Kazakh teenager Zarina Diyas 6-1 6-2.

The 268th-ranked Diyas, who turned 17 on Monday, stunned top seed Jelena Jankovic 24 hours earlier but had no answer to the speed and precision of Kirilenko, who will face the winner of the last quarter-final between Russia`s Anna Chakvetadze and her compatriot Vera Dushevina.

On the men`s side, the seeds continued to fall, with fifth-seeded Czech Radek Stepanek becoming the latest casualty after being upset 6-4 7-6 by Uruguay`s Pablo Cuevas, who eliminated top seed Nikolay Davydenko in the previous round.

Third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was also knocked out in his opening match while 2009 champion and second seed Mikhail Youzhny pulled out with a virus infection, leaving Cypriot Macos Baghdatis as the highest men`s seed left, at number four.

Baghdatis, making his Moscow debut, takes on Ukraine`s Alexandr Dolgopolov later on Friday in the last match on centre court.

Bureau Report