Cape Town - Russia's Maria Sharapova, the last winner of the women's title in
the past five years still in contention in Rome, boosted her chances of a third
title but first since 2012 by cruising to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Victoria Azarenka
Sharapova, the number three seed, will now meet Daria Gavrilova,
who beat fellow-qualifier Christina McHale 6-2, 6-4, in the semi-finals.
In the other semi-final Spanish 10th seed Carla Suarez, who
stunned the fourth seed Petra Kvitova 6-3. 6-2, will meet the second seed
Simona Halep after she swept past fellow Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru, a
qualifier, 6-1, 6-0.
Defending champion Serena Williams pulled out of the competition
on Thursday citing a sore right elbow.