Rome: Sara Errani took advantage of a supportive crowd to beat second-seeded Li Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on Friday and reach the Italian Open semi-finals for the second consecutive year.
The 10th-seeded Errani is attempting to become the first Italian woman to win the tournament since Raffaella Reggi took the title 29 years ago in Taranto.
Li was unusually inconsistent, committing 52 unforced errors to Errani's 21, and appeared rattled by a close call from the chair umpire early in the third set.
Errani celebrated by waving her arms to incite the crowd. Her semifinal opponent will be either 2007 and 2008 Rome champion Jelena Jankovic or third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.
In men's play on an overcast day at the Foro Italico, eighth-seeded Milos Raonic held off Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 and will next play either Novak Djokovic or David Ferrer.
Also reaching the last four was Grigor Dimitrov, who celebrated his 23rd birthday with a win when 36-year-old Tommy Haas retired after losing the first set 6-2 due to a right shoulder injury - spoiling a matchup between the youngest and oldest players in the top 20.
Dimitrov's semifinal opponent will be either seven-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal or Wimbledon winner Andy Murray.
"It's definitely one of the most memorable days of my life," Dimitrov said upon reaching his first Masters series semifinal. "I'm just a happy birthday boy today."
The Italian Open is the last key warmup before the French Open starts in nine days.