Tennis - Ivanovic and Williams reach Auckland semis

Former world number ones Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams notched straight set wins to cruise into the last four of the ASB Classic in Auckland and stay on course for a showdown in Saturday’s final.

Ivanovic brushed off an early wobble to comfortably beat Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-3 in 76 minutes.

"Obviously I'm very thrilled to be through to the semi-finals," said Ivanovic.

"It was a really tough match. The score doesn't really indicate how close it was. I was really surprised by her game - she played really well today, I thought. But I was really happy I managed to close it out in straight sets."

Next up for Ivanovic is a clash with Wimbledon semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens, who moved into the last four with a 6-4 7-5 victory over qualifier Sachie Ishizu.

Williams dispatched of Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-3 to book a semi-final meeting against fifth seed Jamie Hampton, who reached the last four courtesy of a 6-4 2-6 6-4 win over fellow American Lauren Davis.

In the Shenzhen Open, top seed Li Na stayed on course to start 2014 with a trophy after a hard fought 7-5 4-6 6-4 victory over Monica Niculescu.

Elsewhere, there were wins for fifth seed Shuai Peng and eighth seed Annika Beck.

Results - ASB Classic

Venus Williams beat Garbine Muguruza Blanco 6-3 6-3

5-Jamie Hampton beat Lauren Davis 6-2 4-6 6-4

2-Ana Ivanovic beat Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-3

3-Kirsten Flipkens beat Sachie Ishizu 6-4 7-5

Results - Shenzhen Open

8-Annika Beck beat Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 3-6 6-3 6-1

Vania King beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2 6-4

1-Li Na beat Monica Niculescu 7-5 4-6 6-4

5-Peng Shuai beat Jana Cepelova 6-3 6-2