MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):
Victoria Azarenka had to endure some anxious moments before and after her win over American teenager Sloane Stephens.
Li Na wasn't flustered at all while beating No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova.
The result is that Li will play for the Australian Open title against Azarenka, who ended Stephens' unexpected run to the semi-finals that included a quarter-final upset of 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.
Another player with an easy run yesterday was defending champion Novak Djokovic, who looked like he was conducting a tennis clinic in overpowering No. 4 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in just 1 hour, 29 minutes.
"I played perfectly," he said in a post-match TV interview. "I played incredible tennis."
Djokovic will attempt to win his third consecutive Australian Open when he plays the winner of today's semi-final between Roger Federer and Andy Murray in Sunday's championship match.
While Li's 6-2, 6-2 win over Sharapova, who set a tournament record in dropping only nine games in five matches en route to the semis, never appeared in doubt yesterday, Azarenka added some intrigue in the second semi-final on Rod Laver Arena.
Azarenka finished off a 6-1, 6-4 over Stephens after a medical timeout for rib and knee injuries. The No. 1-ranked player had wasted five match points in the game immediately before leaving the court for medical attention, then returned to break Stephens' serve to end the match.
"Well, I almost did the choke of the year," Azarenka told an on-court interviewer immediately after the match. "At 5-3, having so many chances I couldn't close it out."
Australian Open officials said the tournament doctor reported that Azarenka had left knee and rib injuries.
Stephens didn't think the timing of the medical break affected the outcome of the match.
"It's happened before. Last match, match before, I've had people going for medical breaks, going to the bathroom," she said. "Didn't affect me. Just another something else that happens."
The temperature hit 97 degrees during the second women's semi-final, slightly hotter than it had been when Li beat Sharapova to reach the Australian Open final for the second time in three years.
The semi-final started badly for the 25-year-old Russian, serving double-faults to lose the first two points and conceding a break in the first game.
Li was the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final when she lost to Kim Clijsters at Melbourne Park in 2011. She had her breakthrough a few months later when she won the French Open, beating Sharapova in the semi-finals along the way.