Li joins Azarenka, Sharapova in last eight
China enjoyed success through Grand Slam-winner Li Na, who joined top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova in the women's last eight of the China Open in Beijing on Thursday.
Li, who needs a good week to help her qualify for the $4.9 million season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul, needed three sets and a tie break to overcome compatriot Peng Shuai.
Last year's French Open champion finally won 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) after almost two hours and 30 minutes, with Peng spurning a number of opportunities to win the match.
"Two days ago I had an unbelievable serve but I think I hit too many double faults. I wish I could have had a good serve in the match today," said Li, who will play defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.
World No 1 Azarenka dispatched Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3 to reach the last eight without dropping a set. She will next play Switzerland's Romina Oprandi.
"It was a little bit of a challenge today, for sure," Azarenka said. "I felt like I could have been a bit more aggressive and not hesitate so much.
"When I won that last point, I was relieved and happy to finish the match in two sets."
Second seed Sharapova, No 2 in the rankings behind Azarenka, defeated Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog, ranked 90th in the world, 6-0, 6-2 at the Chinese capital's National Tennis Stadium.
Sharapova, 25, had beaten Romania's Simona Halep 7-5, 7-5 in the first round and Sorana Cirstea, also of Romania, 6-2, 6-2 in round two.
"I had a long first round, even though it was two sets, but today and yesterday was definitely a little bit quicker," Sharapova said.
"I played really well in the beginning and got a little tense in the second set, but I felt like I really needed that challenge. It's nice to be in the quarterfinal stage of this tournament."
Sharapova will now face her first real test when she takes on German fifth seed Angelique Kerber, who ousted former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 and is among the latest women to qualify for the WTA Championships.
Czech player Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani of Italy were also confirmed for the season finale, leaving just the eighth and final spot undecided – the position currently held by Li.