MELBOURNE - World No.1 Victoria Azarenka survived a panic attack and a controversial time-out to stagger into the Australian Open final against China's Li Na on Thursday.
Li stunned Russian Maria Sharapova to reach her second Australian final when she ended the second seed's spectacular run with a 6-2 6-2 victory.
Azarenka dispatched 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens 6-1 6-4 but not until Stephens had saved five match points and the top seed had left the court for medical time-out.
She was checked on court for what appeared to be a back injury at 5-4 in the final set.
Azarenka also said later she had chest pains and difficulty breathing in the searing 35C heat but attributed it to a back issue.
She said her back had to be "unlocked" to enable her to breathe properly when she was off court.
Azarenka retired from her fourth round Open match against Serena Williams in 2009 with heatstroke.