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Top seeds Azarenka, Sharapova set up China Open final

Belarus's Victoria Azarenka reacts after winning a point during her semi-final women's singles match against France's Marion Bartoli at the
Belarus's Victoria Azarenka reacts after winning a point during her semi-final women's singles match against France's Marion Bartoli at the

(Reuters) - World number one 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 favorite 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.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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