Paris – Top seed Maria Sharapova set up a clash with fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova as they both advanced to the semi-finals of the Paris Indoor Open on Friday.
Sharapova eased past Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-2 for her fourth victory in as many matches over the Belgian who had ousted titleholder Mona Barthel of Germany in the first round.
She next meets 26th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova who dropped a set in her quarter-final before getting past ninth-ranked German Angelique Kerber, a Paris winner in 2012.
World number five Sharapova opened with a break and raced to a 4-0 advantage in 15 minutes. The four-time Grand Slam winner staved off a break point to lead 5-1 before taking the first set 6-2.
An early break again in the second set put Sharapova on her way, but the Belgian, who has never taken a set from the Russian, fought back 2-2 after a Sharapova double fault.
But the 26-year-old Russian immediately broke back wrapping up again 6-2 after 69 minutes on court at the Coubertin Stadium.
“It's just my third tournament of the season and I was happy to be able to stay focused on each point,” said the former world number one.
Sharapova has won her only previous meeting with Pavlyuchenkova, 22, also on hard court in Cincinnati in 2010.
Earlier Pavlyuchenkova had a battle with Kerber who had won the last two of their previous four meetings.
A major base-line battle of wills resulted in the Russian coming through 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) after two hours and 30 minutes.
The final two quarter-finals will see Germany's Andrea Petkovic take on France's Alize Cornet and Ukrainian Elina Svitolina against third seeded Italian Sarra Errani. – AFP