Former world number one Maria Sharapova cruised past Kazakhstan`s Zarina Diyas and into the semi-finals of the Shenzhen Open in China on Thursday.
Sharapova, who won 6-3, 6-3, struck 24 winners and five aces to stay on course for a title clash with top-ranked Simona Halep after the Romanian dismissed Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-2.
"I'm glad that I ended up being the winner of the match," Sharapova said in a courtside interview.
"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 five-times grand slam champion committed 22 unforced errors in the match but stepped up her game at decisive moments of the contest to get past her spirited rival.
Sharapova`s only title in 2017 came at the Tianjin Open, after she came back from a 15-month doping ban, and the world number 59 is aiming for a title-winning start to the year in her first visit to Shenzhen.
"I feel like I`m having a nice little tour of China. It`s my fourth Chinese city in a few months," Sharapova added.
"It`s obviously been a great welcome here. It took many years for me to play this event but I`m really glad that I did."
Sharapova plays Katerina Siniakova next after the defending champion beat fellow Czech Kristyna Pliskova 6-2, 6-2.
Earlier, fourth seed Irina-Camelia Begu had to work hard to overcome Timea Babos 7-5, 7-5 to set up a semifinal meeting with her compatriot Halep.