NEW YORK, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Li Na isn't fighting alone.
The fifth seed owed her historic victory to a team of talent after beating Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2 on Tuesday to become China's first semifinalist in the U.S. Open.
Li's team includes her husband Jiang Shan, former coach and sparring partner who is often given a dressing down when the player is in a bad mood, fitness trainer Alex Stober and coach Carlos Rodriguez.
Li credits Rodriguez with raising her game and saving her marriage.
"Carlos is a savior and he saved my marriage," Li said. "I don't know how things go for other women, but for me it's very difficult to find a balance between husband and coach.
"When Jiang Shan was coach, he was training me so hard, I would say, 'You're my husband. Why are you pushing me so hard?'"
Li admitted she didn't listen to her husband when he was coaching.
"When my husband was coach, I never listened. I just say, 'alright, pass, next one."
"Now when my husband wants to say something to me, he will say, 'this is what Carlos wants me to tell you.' I say, 'OK. I'll listen.'"
The world number six player is enjoying one of the best seasons in her career, reaching quarter-finals at three of the four Grand Slams, which was the first time for the 31-year-old player.
"There were some ups and downs in my previous seasons, and this year there was a lot more consistency," said Li.
Li moved in the Tuesday's match without losing a set. She had previously played against Makarova for three times, winning all of them.
Tuesday's meeting was no difference from the last three.
Li held her service games to level the first set 3-3, and managed to break in the seventh game thanks to a couple of unforced errors from the Russian. Neither player was able to break in the rest of the set, which ended 6-4 in favor of Li.
Both players suffered from shaky shots in the second set. They finished six breaks in the set (three for each) to enter the tiebreak. Li was leading 3-0 in the tiebreak, but the double fault disturbed her pace and Makarova took chance to take the tiebreak 7-5.
The final set went to Li's way. The top Chinese player won four straight games after 2-2 to end the deciding set 6-2.
"I'm not so happy," said Li about her match. "Today's first time I was feeling so nervous, from the beginning to the end."
"But I was happy because at least I was fighting a lot on the court, even I didn't play best of tennis, but I still fight and (am) still in the tournament."
Li will take on world number one Serena Williams of the United States in the semifinal, who routed Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-0.
"If you only think about what opponent is doing, of course you already lose the match before you come to the court," said Li.