Sharapova books final spot
Beijing - World number two Maria Sharapova overcame home favourite Li Na in straight sets on Saturday to make the final of the China Open, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga triumphed in the last four of the men's draw.
The 25-year-old Russian defeated Li, Asia's only Grand Slam winner, 6-4, 6-0, 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.
Sharapova continued her momentum into the second set, taking six games without reply to steamroller her opponent in little over half an hour.
World number one Victoria Azarenka and ninth seed Marion Bartoli meet in the other semi-final on Saturday.
In the men's draw third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France marched into the final when Spain's Feliciano Lopez retired during the second set of their match.
The world number seven thrashed Lopez 6-1 in the first set and was 4-1 up in the second when the left-handed Spaniard called it a day, citing an injury to his left wrist.
"I played really well and I felt really good on the court," Tsonga said. "I didn't know before he was a bit injured. I'm just happy today with my game."
The Frenchman has enjoyed an easy progression to the final of the Beijing tournament since needing three sets to overcome Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in the first round.
The 27-year-old received a walkover in the second round after Nikolay Davydenko withdrew and beat Russia's Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets in the third.
"During this week my level has got better and better," Tsonga said.
"I have played maybe some of my best tennis here. I haven't played like this in couple of months and maybe a couple of years now and that's why I think I can win the final tomorrow."
Serbia's world number two and top seed Novak Djokovic meets Germany's Florian Mayer in the second semi-final on Saturday.