London – World No 1 Victoria Azarenka set up a final date with Maria Sharapova at the China Open after the top two seeds enjoyed comprehensive victories in their semi-finals on Saturday.
Sharapova blew away home favourite Li Na 6-4 6-0 before top seed Azarenka saw off the challenge from France's Marion Bartoli 6-4 6-2.
Sharapova served three double faults to concede an early break to go 1-3 down in the first set against the Chinese number one Li but sailed through once she found her groove.
“It was a really high quality first set with a few ups and downs, and obviously she had the lead in that set, but I came back,” the Russian told reporters.
“There were a few key moments to that set and after I broke her in the last game, it was important to take that momentum into the second set and keep going.”
Sharapova, who lost in the quarter-finals of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last week, was happy to be back in contention.
“I came into this tournament not playing extremely well in Tokyo, and I had a couple of days of practice here,” she said.
“So I was hoping from the first round I'd really step it up and get better and I feel as the tournament has gone on I've been playing and moving better.”
Belarussian Azarenka, who withdrew before her quarter-final in Tokyo due to health issues, showed no signs of trouble as she powered past Bartoli.
Azarenka last won a title in March when she beat Sharapova in Indian Wells while the Russian is seeking her first trophy since winning the French Open in June. – Reuters