Li Na advanced to the Australian Open semifinals for the third time in four years, bringing fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska's 13-match winning streak to a shuddering halt.
Sixth-seeded Li, who lost the 2011 Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters only months before her Grand Slam breakthrough at the French Open, had a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Radwanska in Tuesday's first match on Rod Laver Arena.
"She's a tough player. I was feeling today against a wall,'' Li said. "She can hit everywhere, but without a mistake. I was feeling just very tough. You have to focus on every shot. Not every point, every shot.''
Radwanska came into the Australian Open with titles this season at Auckland and Sydney, where she beat Li in the semifinals, but continued her poor conversation rate in Grand Slam quarterfinals. She's only advanced further once in seven tries -- at Wimbledon last year, when she lost the final to Serena Williams.
Li will next play No. 2-ranked Sharapova, who said she can also see a difference in Li's game since she's been working with new coach Carlos Rodriguez.
"She's a Grand Slam champion. It wasn't like she needed someone to come in and fix her game," she said. "But sometimes when you just have a different surrounding and a new voice, they might be saying the same things but it just gets to you a little bit differently and your motivation changes."
Li knows she will have to be sharp against Sharapova - the Russian won the three matches they played last year and owns an 8-4 head-to-head record against Li. But she believes she's a stronger player this year.
"I'm getting a little bit older, getting more experience," Li said. "Right now, I really enjoy every match."