Tennis bits: Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka reach Doha semis; Kei Nishikori cruising in Mexico

Venus Williams knocked out Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka overcame Caroline Wozniacki on Thursday to set up a meeting in the Qatar Ladies Open semis.

Venus Willams returns a shot during her win over Agnieszka Radwanska in the Qatar Ladies Open quarter-finals on Thursday. Osama Faisal / AP / February 26, 2015
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WTA Doha

Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka will headline in the Qatar Ladies Open semi-finals after both advanced in high-powered match-ups on Thursday.

The tournament seventh seed Williams beat out fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, while Azarenka dominated third seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1.

After a comfortable and straight-forward first set victory, Williams recovered from her second-set bashing to break Radwanska in the fourth and sixth sets to seal the win, despite being broken back in the seventh.

The other Doha semi-final will feature a tight match between world No 14 Carla Suarez-Navarro and No 15 Lucie Safarova. Spaniard Suarez-Navarro shocked top seed Petra Kvitova despite going down in the first set 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. Safarova, meanwhile, manhandled German world No 10 Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-1.

ATP Acapulco

Kei Nishikori, the top seed at the Mexican Open, breezed into the tournament’s semi-finals on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-4 handling of world No 33 Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Nishikori has yet to drop a set in his three matches in Acapulco has he’s marched unimpeded to the semis. On Thursday he broke Dolgopolov in the opening game of the first set, before he was broken himself in the eighth.

He immediately responded by breaking Dolgopolov and finished off the set in the 10th.

He made it simpler in the second set, breaking Dolgopolov in the fifth game and cruising from there.

Nishikori, the Japanese world No 5, will now face fourth seed Kevin Anderson in the semi-finals.

The other semi-final will pit American qualifier Ryan Harrison against David Ferrer. Harrison upset third seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round and sixth seeed Ivo Karlovic on Thursday in the quarter-finals, 4-6, 7-6 (7/0), 7-6 (7/4).

Spaniard Ferrer, coming off a win in his last tournament in Rio, held off a challenge from young Australian Bernard Tomic for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory.

ATP Buenos Aires

Fabio Fognini crashd out of the Argentina Open on Thursday, losing in straight sets to world No 74 Carlos Berlocq.

Berlocq, an Argentinian and one of the local favourites at the ATP tournament, finished off world No 22 Fognini, the fourth seed in Buenos Aires, 6-3, 6-0 to reach the quarter-finals.

Second-seeded Tommy Robredo had little trouble moving on, however, beating world No 186 Renzo Olivo 6-1, 6-2. He will face Nicolas Almagro in the quarters, who dismissed Albert Ramos on Thursday.

Thursday’s other quarter-final entry went to Blaz Rola, who had little trouble against Argentine Facundo Bagnis in a straight sets win.

In the last eight Rola and Berlocq will face off, as well as Wednesday winners top seed Rafael Nadal and Federico Delbonis and third-seeded Pablo Cuevas and Juan Monaco.

WTA Acapulco

Maria Sharapova continued along as the overwhleming favourite in the Mexican Open on Thursday, fighting off a challenge from Magdalena Rybarikova for a three-set 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 victory to reach the semi-finals.

World No 2 Sharapova’s next challenger in Acapulco will be highly-rated French 21-year-old Caroline Garcia, the world No 30 who advanced when quarter-final opponent Mirjana Lucic-Baroni retired. Garcia won the first set and was up 2-1 in the second set when the match halted.

The other semi-final will feature Timea Bacsinszky who comfortably topped Johanna Larsson 6-3, 6-3 to move on, and No 158 Sesil Karantantcheva, who defeated world No 51 Monica Puig in a 2-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 victory.

The 25-year-old Bulgarian Karantantcheva who was a 2005 French Open quarter-finalist will be looking to reach the first WTA final of her career against Bacsinszky. She was once ranked as high as No 35 in the world but, the same year as her French Open run, failed doping tests twice and was banned from tennis for two years, returning in 2008.

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