Italian Open: Maria Sharapova beats Victoria Azarenka

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova has won the Italian Open twice before

Maria Sharapova eased past Victoria Azarenka to set up an Italian Open semi-final with Daria Gavrilova.

The Russian, 28, is seeking her third Rome title and won through 6-3 6-2 while compatriot Gavrilova, 21, beat American Christina McHale 6-2 6-4.

They meet on Saturday afternoon after Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro - conqueror of Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-2 - plays Simona Halep.

Halep thrashed her Romanian counterpart Alexandra Dulgheru 6-1 6-0.

World number three Sharapova must secure a better finish than Halep if she is to secure the number two seed position for the French Open, beginning on 19 May.