"It's always tough to play someone from the same country -- we were in the national team together, and we trained and practised for a long time together," fifth-seeded Li said.

"It's like being twins on the tour, and it's tough to fight against each other on the court. But I was really happy I could beat her today."

Former French Open champion Li reached the final in Rome in 2012 where she lost a three-set thriller to Maria Sharapova.