Venus Williams storms into Hong Kong Open semi-final

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Williams took Alize Cornet apart.

Venus Williams took just an hour to secure her place in the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open Friday in a 6-1, 6-1 victory against a lacklustre Alize Cornet.

The French player, who beat Williams’ sister Serena in their last three meets, struggled to gain a foothold in a match dominated by the seven-time Grand Slam winner.

Williams, 35, unleashed power serves and even gained resigned applause from her opponent, 10 years her junior, after whipping over a cross-court return to go 5-1 up in the second.

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“It’s never easy. We had some tough games there,” Williams said as she hopes to claw her way into the eight-player WTA Finals in Singapore later this month.

She is currently 11th in the Road to Singapore rankings after a resurgent season and Hong Kong is her last chance to get the points she needs.

“I’ve been under a lot of pressure in my career, playing big moments, all that experience hopefully will help me,” she said as she looked ahead to Saturday’s semi-final.

Williams will meet the winner of the quarter-final match being played Friday between former world number one Jelena Jankovic and sixth seed Daria Gavrilova.

World number 10 Angelique Kerber, the top seed left in the tournament, took two hours to edge out French player Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-3 with fast returns and deft touches at the net in a match which saw a succession of long deuce wrangles.

Fifth seed Samantha Stosur was given a scare by Britain’s Heather Watson who took the first set and went 3-1 up in the second in their quarter-final match, before the Australian turned on the power and took it 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Stosur meets Kerber in the semi-finals Saturday.

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Murray through to Shanghai semis with win over Berdych

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Murray thrashed Berdych.

Andy Murray produced a devastating display to rout Tomas Berdych and set up a Shanghai Masters semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic.

Berdych has given Murray a lot of trouble in the past and had won six of their previous 12 meetings.

But the Czech was left bewildered by the brilliance of Murray as the world number two triumphed 6-1 6-3. 

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Murray told Sky Sports 3: “I felt like I dictated all match and, against someone who hits the ball as big as Tomas, that’s not always easy to do.

“I felt like I wasn’t having to do much defending – I was really going for my shots. In the second set I felt could have won all of the games.

“I’m very happy with the performance and it’s good to conserve some energy before (Saturday).”

Berdych, who is coached by Murray’s former right-hand man Dani Vallverdu, held serve in the opening game of the match but from there the Scot took over.

A forehand wide from Berdych gave Murray his first break of serve for 2-1, and the Scot then came through a test when he confidently saved two break points.

He made it three breaks and six games in a row to take the opening set, with Murray’s clean hitting and accuracy from the baseline simply too much for Berdych to handle.

It was not until he was 3-0 down in the second set that Berdych finally stopped the rot after losing nine games in a row. But Murray was not about to allow a shift in momentum and served out the victory after an hour and 19 minutes.

Djokovic has not lost a set since the US Open final, winning the title in Beijing last week and moving smoothly into the last four in Shanghai.

Murray trails the world number one 19-9 in their head-to-head but ended an eight-match losing run in their last meeting in Canada in August.

“It will be an extremely tough match,” Murray said. “Novak has played great tennis all year but especially the last couple of weeks. We’ve played some great matches before in Masters series.”

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Radwanska sets up Tianjin Open semi-final with Pliskova

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Radwanska in action.

World number six Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beat Russia's Elizaveta Kulichkova at the Tianjin Open on Friday, setting up a semi-final clash with Czech Karolina Pliskova.

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– GALLERY: Top-10 women's grand slam winners
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Second seed Radwanska won 7-6, 6-2 in an hour and a half, while third seed Pliskova beat Hungary's Timea Babos 6-3, 6-2.

Fifth seed Kristina Mladenovic of France was knocked out, however, by Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

The winner of the Radwanska-Pliskova match will play either Jovanovski or Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, both unseeded.

The $500,000 (440,000-euro) WTA tournament has seen a run of upsets, the most spectacular when Italian top seed Flavia Pennetta, who won the US Open last month, went out to a player ranked more than 400 places below her, Ukraine's Lyudmyla Kichenok.

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