Azarenka, Sharapova set up final
World No 1 Victoria Azarenka set up a final date with Maria Sharapova at the China Open after the top two seeds enjoyed comprehensive victories in their semifinals in Beijing on Saturday.
Maria Sharapova defeated Li, Asia's only Grand Slam winner, 6-4, 6-0, to reach the final for the first time in five attempts, but it took the French Open champion a while to break into her stride.
Li sped to an early 3-1 lead due to some poor serving by Sharapova, including three consecutive double faults in one game, but the Russian fought back, winning three games in a row before taking the set with a break.
"It was a really high-quality first set with a few ups and downs and obviously she (Li) had the lead," Sharapova said.
"In those first few games I thought my percentage of first serve was low.
"Against someone like Li Na who likes to step in and take the ball early, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to have to hit too many second serves.
"My goal after that was just to get my first-serve percentage much higher than it was in the first three or four games," she added.
"I came back and then I broke her in that last game of the first set. It was important for me to take that momentum going into the second."
And continue her momentum she did, taking six games without reply to steamroll Li – who has never won her home tournament – in little over half an hour.
"She had a better performance than I did and she had better control of the match, but I think I played pretty well today," Li said.
World No 1 Azarenka from Belarus beat ninth seed Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-2.
"I felt the first set was really close and could have gone either way," Bartoli said.
"Vika (Azarenka) is probably the best returner in the game and it's not like I was serving badly. She was breaking me because she was returning too well and that's why I couldn't win the points," the world number 10 added.
"Maybe she could have missed one or two but she didn't. That's the way it is."