Li had all kinds of trouble against No.26 seed Lucie Safarova in the previous round, rallying from 61 53 down and even saving a match point later in the set. But the No.4-seeded Li survived that one, and she looked like she was playing on a new breath of life against Makarova, inching ahead 3-2 early on then reeling off nine games in a row to finish the No.22-seeded Russian off in just 59 minutes, 62 60.
"After the tough match two days ago I practiced a lot, because I think I really made my coach Carlos sad with that match," Li said. "I could tell he was really unhappy. Even yesterday I knew if I didn't do something well he would be upset. So I tried a lot yesterday in practice and also in the match today.
"I think I made him a bit happier today."
As the match went on, Li looked more relaxed. And on match point, the Chinese implemented something she's been working on a lot - she charged the net and put away a backhand volley.
"I have to be relaxed on the court," Li said. "If I get nervous or tired, I'll start thinking too much and I'll forget what I should do on the court. Also I can't think too much before the match about what my opponent's going to do, because I'll forget the most important things I should do on the court."
Li has now reached the quarterfinals or better at the Australian Open four times - the most for her at any Grand Slam. Awaiting her next is No.28 seed Flavia Pennetta - they are tied 2-2 head-to-head.
"It's been at least two years we didn't play, and time can change everything. But at least she's one day older than me, so I don't have to play a younger player again!" Li joked in her press conference.
"For sure it will be a tough match though. She had an injury and at the US Open she started playing really well again, and she has continued that here. It's never easy - especially at a Grand Slam."
With years playing on the tour alongside each other, do Li and Pennetta have a good relationship?
"Of course we talk a lot," Li said. "It's very tough to stay on the tour for over 10 years, so if you see the same player a lot it feels more friendly. Because now the younger players are coming more and more."
"I think I watched the second set, a couple of games from the second set, when I finished my cool down and went back to the locker room," Li said. "After that I didn't see any of it. Is she down?"
Li was told Williams was down 5-2 in the third set - then asked if she had any comment.
"No, because they are not my next opponent," she said.