World No. 2 Maria Sharapova took eight games in a row to cruise past home favourite Li Na 6-4, 6-0 in the semifinals at China Open here on Saturday.
Sharapova, who entered the final without dropping a single set, demolished Li's hope to become the first Chinese finalist here, under the witness of some 15,000 home crowd in the National Tennis Stadium.
The Russian second seed will bid for her first China Open title when she takes on Victoria Azarenka in Sunday's final. The Polish top seed defeated Marion Bartoli of Germany 6-4, 6-2 in another semifinals.
Li, Asia's first Grand Slam winner, had a better start by breaking in the third game of the first set and established a 3-1 lead due to some poor serving by Sharapova, including three consecutive double faults in one game.
"In those first few games I thought my percentage of first serve was low. Against someone like Li Na who likes to take the ball early, I put a lot of pressure on myself to hit too many second serves," said Sharapova.
"My goal after that was just to get my first-serve percentage much higher than it was in the first three or four games."
Sharapova steadied herself and turned the table on Li by breaking back in the sixth game to level at 3-3. She put Li under relentless pressure in the tenth game when leading at 5-4, and took the first set after Li hit the ball out of the line.
Sharapova was more aggressive in the second set, while Li seemed wilted after the first-set loss. Sharapova then wrapped up the victory with a quick bagel.
"It was a really high-quality first set and a few ups and downs, and obviously she had the lead in the first set," said Sharapova. "I came back and then I broke her in that last game of the set."
"There are a few key moments to that (first) set, and it was important for me to take that momentum going into the second," said Sharapova.
Li was basically satisfied with her overall performance. "I think I have a very good performance, but she was better than I did, and she had better control of the match."
"We have goal for this season, that is to say we will participate into WTA Final. So eventually, we make our wish possible," added Li, who was awarded the eighth and final spot in the year-ending WTA event after she entered the semifinals here on Friday.