The five-time grand slam champion needed just 78 minutes to beat third seed Peng 6-3, 6-1 at the Tianjin Open and maintained her record of not dropping a set this week.She booked a final date with Aryna Sabalenka.Former world number one Maria Sharapova reached her first WTA final since returning from a drug ban.It is her first final since May 2015, when she won the Italian Open.

In June 2015 she received a two-year ban for a prohibited substance but in October 2016 that was reduced to 15 months after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Sharapova came back to the tour in April.

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The Russian, who is currently ranked 86, broke her Chinese opponent in the opening game and rarely looked troubled on her own serve. Peng, ranked number 25 in the world, had no answer to Sharapova’s power hitting from the baseline and gave up another break en route to conceding the first set.

Then raced into a 3-0 lead at the start of the second but suffered a brief bout of nerves while serving for the fifth game, when she was forced to save three break points.

She will play 19-year-old world number 102 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who beat Italy’s Sara Errani 6-1 6-3.

 

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