Madrid: Four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova overcame a stiff test from American Christina McHale to book her place in the third round of the Madrid Open 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
Sharapova looked on the ropes when McHale led 4-1 in the final set, but the Russian's form returned in time as she rolled off five consecutive games to set up a meeting with Spain's Garbine Muguruza or 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur in the last 16.
The Russian, though, was still far from happy with her overall performance.
"After a really good start I didn't keep that level. I didn't keep doing what I was doing. I think I had a bit of a letdown," she said.
"I didn't create any chances for myself on her serves. I don't think I had a break point at all in that second set and I didn't have a breakpoint until I converted one in the third set.
"I don't feel like I was doing much off of my return and putting any pressure on her and letting her dictate from the first point. That was really getting me in trouble."
Earlier, Australian Open champion Li had a more simple task as she swept aside fellow Chinese Zheng Jie 6-2, 6-3.
Zheng led the head-to-head record between the two 4-3 before the match, but Li has now won the last four meetings between the pair in straight sets and will face 16th seed Sloane Stephens in the next round.