Maria Sharapova is on track to win her first title after her comeback. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

TIANJIN, China – Maria Sharapova surged into the Tianjin Open quarter-finals on Thursday as she pursues her first tournament victory since her return from a doping ban.

The Russian former world number one defeated Magda Linette of Poland 7-5, 6-3 and will play Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele.

The 30-year-old Sharapova has been on the comeback trail since April after serving a 15-month suspension for taking the banned substance meldonium.

Sharapova, a five-time major-winner, is now ranked a lowly 86 in the world, and she needed a wildcard to enter the Tianjin tournament.

She saw off 71st-ranked Linette in just over 98 minutes to reach only her second quarter-final since her return to action. 

“We did a really good job of holding serve in the first set,” Sharapova was quoted as saying by the WTA website.

“I feel like I made a few too many errors on my return game, which ultimately led to a difficult first set.

“But once I broke her early in that second set, I played a really good, aggressive game and I felt like I had the momentum in the second.”