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Sharapova through to Beijing quarters

Sharapova through to Beijing quarters
World number two Maria Sharapova enjoyed her third consecutive straight-sets win in Beijing on Thursday as she reached the last eight of the China Open in style.

The Russian, second in the WTA rankings behind Victoria Azarenka, defeated Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog, ranked 90th in the world, 6-0, 6-2 at the capital’s National  Tennis Stadium.

Sharapova, 25, has yet to drop a set in the tournament, defeating Romania’s Simona Halep in the first round 7-5, 7-5 and Sorana Cirstea, also of Romania, 6-2, 6-2 in the  second.

‘I had a long first round, even though it was two sets, but today and yesterday was definitely a little bit quicker,’ Sharapova said.

‘I played really well in the beginning and got a little tense in the second set, but I felt like I really needed that challenge.

‘It’s nice to be in the quarter-final stage of this tournament.’ The number two seed will face her first real test in the next round when she takes on either fifth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany or former world number one Caroline  Wozniacki of Denmark.

China’s unheralded Zhang Ze on Thursday celebrated the biggest win of his career, handing fifth seed Richard Gasquet of France a shock second-round defeat at the China Open in Beijing.

Zhang, 22, overcame world number 11 Gasquet in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, to set up a quarterfinal tie against Germany’s Florian Mayer.

‘I had a very good start, winning the first set. I played a lot against his forehand which gave me the opportunity to control the game,’ Zhang said.

Zhang has become the highest ranked Chinese player ever in the men’s game, moving from 292nd at the start of the year to 165th currently, and credited his rise to Gasquet’s former coach and compatriot Guillaume Peyre.

Zhang said he decided to hire a foreign coach because they have more experience than those at home. ‘The foreign coach can provide me with something more enlightening.’
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