New York:China's Li Na reached the quarter-finals of the US Open for the first time on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Italy's Francesca Schiavone.
The 27-year-old from Wuhan produced her best tennis of the week to dominate an opponent who was struggling at times with a strained muscle in her upper thigh.
That set up a last eight clash with Kim Clijsters, the 2005 champion here who is on the comeback trail after taking two years out of the game to marry and have a child. Clijsters defeated Venus Williams 6-0, 0-6, 6-4.
"Everything went perfect today," the 27-year-old, 18th seed said.
"This was my dream to get to the quarters here and I hope I can win three more matches."
The 17th-seeded Li broke serve in the fourth game of the opening set and had chances to break again two games later but failed to take them.
She held rock steady on serve, however, to lead 5-2 and then broke Schiavone's serve for a second time, hitting a backhand winner down the line on set point.
Two successive net-cords gave Li another break point in the fourth game of the second set and she took that by hitting a raking backhand service return that Schiavone could not control.
She gave the break back immediately with a rash of unforced errors allowing Schiavone a lifeline and then failed to convert three break points in the following game as Schiavone levelled at 3-3.
But two games later she again put pressure on the Schiavone serve and reaped the dividends as the Italian hit a backhand wide on set point with Li dominating the rally.
The Chinese No.1 comfortably served out for the match.
One more win and she would become just the second Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final after Zheng Jie's wildcard run into the 2008 Wimbledon semi-finals.
Li has one previous quarter-final appearance at a Grand Slam tournament to her name, losing to Clijsters in the last eight at Wimbledon in 2006.
Since then, she has struggled with injuries to her ribs and more recently right knee and missed much of 2008 to get fit again.
Despite the knee injury flaring up anew from time to time this year she enjoyed runner-up finishes at Monterrey and Birmingham as well as reaching the fourth round in the French Open and third round at Wimbledon.