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By Chris Oddo

Li Na plays at the 2012 China Open (October 5, 2012) --  Li Na wowed the faithful in Beijing with a scintillating 6-4, 6-2 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska on Friday in the China Open quarterfinals. With the victory the 30-year-old became the eighth and final player to reach this year's TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships.

(Related: Seven ladies qualify for 2012 WTA Championships)

"In the last two years, I have played the best tennis of my career and I am excited to return to the WTA Championships again this year," said Li after a sparkling performance against one of the trickiest -- and most talented -- players in the game.

Getting past Radwanska was by no means easy for the seventh seed. Radwanska absorbed and redirected much of Li's hard, flat ground strokes in the early going, and even though the 2011 French Open champion had the better of the play, the Pole managed to fight off the first five break points she faced before finally yielding her first service break to fall behind 4-3.

Things looked dicey when Li fell behind 0-40 in the next game, but she rallied to win the next five points to avert the crisis.

After Radwanska inched within 5-4, Li served the set out in the next game and, with the support of the Chinese crowd raining down on her, never looked back from there.

In the second set Li continued to force the issue against Radwanska. She lost only five points on her serve, did not face a break point, and closed the 90-minute affair without drama.

The victory marks Li's second semifinal appearance in Beijing. She will face Maria Sharapova in Saturday's semifinal.

(Results: China Open women's draw)

Sharapova advanced when her command performance against Angelique Kerber ended after just nine games. Kerber withdrew after falling behind 0-6, 0-3, leaving many surprised as to the nature of her ailment.

Kerber's exhibited little sign of injury before packing it in. "I actually didn't see much of her injury," Sharapova said. "I was surprised when she called the trainer and even more so when she retired quickly after that."

The other semifinal in Beijing will feature Victoria Azarenka, who converted all six of her break points against Romina Oprandi to win 6-2, 6-0, and Marion Bartoli, who was eliminated from the race to Istanbul despite a 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.

Azarenka owns an 8-3 career edge over Bartoli, but the Frenchwoman ended Azarenka's 26-match winning streak the last time they met in Miami with a 6-3, 6-3 upset.

(Photo Credit: Andy Wong/ AP)


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