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Sharapova to face Li Na in Edgbaston final

Sharapova grimaces as she powers an overhead in her semifinal against Riske.
Sharapova grimaces as she powers an overhead in her semifinal against Riske.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maria Sharapova into final of WTA Tour event in Birmingham
  • Russian superstar will play Li Na of China in Sunday's showdown
  • Sharapova taken to three sets by American qualifier Alison Riske

(CNN) -- Maria Sharapova battled to a three-set victory over American qualifier Alison Riske to reach the final of the WTA tournament in Birmingham on Saturday.

The two-time winner at the Edgbastion Priory club will now play top seed Li Na, who was also taken to three sets before beating France's Aravane Rezai 6-1 3-6 6-3.

The 19-year-old Riske had never won a match in a main WTA tour event before the pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournament, but did well to hit back after losing the first set to level with a 6-4 second set win.

But former world number one Sharapova was not to be denied and swept through the decider 6-1 to earn a rematch with China star Li, who beat her in the semifinals last year.

A year makes a big difference. I certainly don't like losing to the same person twice in a row -- I'm a big competitor
--Maria Sharapova
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"It'll be good to play her again," Sharapova told the official WTA Tour Web site.

"A year makes a big difference. I certainly don't like losing to the same person twice in a row -- I'm a big competitor."

Li, who lost in last year's final to Magdalena Rybarikova, said she suffered from a lapse of concentration against the fourth-seeded Rezai, but recovered to earn another meeting with Sharapova.

She will be bidding for her career third title on the WTA Tour and first since the Gold Coast in 2008, but aside from her 2009 win over Sharapova in Birmingham last year has lost their other five meetings.