Li Na will meet Dominika Cibulkova in the Australian Open final after the Slovakian continued a tournament of upsets by thrashing Agnieszka Radwanska.
Cibulkova's only previous grand slam semi-final came at the 2009 French Open but she appeared completely nerveless in routing fifth seed Radwanska 6-1 6-2.
The Pole played a superb match to beat defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals but she was unable to stamp her unique style on the match in the face of an onslaught from her opponent.
Cibulkova is only 5ft 3in tall but she packs a real punch and her drilled groundstrokes were too much for Radwanska to cope with.
The result will be a major disappointment for Radwanska, who had won five of her previous six matches against Cibulkova, including a 6-0 6-0 victory in the final of the WTA Tour event in Sydney last year.
The 24-year-old's only grand slam final came at Wimbledon in 2012, but she was the highest-ranked player in the last four at the All England Club last year only to lose to Sabine Lisicki.
Cibulkova is the first Slovakian ever to make a grand slam singles final, and she said: "The most important game was when I won my serve for 5-2. Then I knew I was going to do it. I can't believe this is happening."
Earlier, Li ended Eugenie Bouchard's brilliant run to reach her third Australian Open final in four years.
The Chinese was the highest seed left in the last four and the only one to have won a grand slam title, and her experience told in a 6-2 6-4 victory.
Li will now attempt to go one better than in 2011 and 2013, when she lost to Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka respectively.
Twelve months ago she fell twice during the final, twisting her ankle and hitting her head, and the 31-year-old said: "Last time was a little bit tough, I will try this time to make one more step."
Bouchard has been one of the stars of the tournament.
Supported by her 'Genie Army', a group of local admirers, and with a sense of confidence and calmness beyond her years, the 19-year-old had progressed to the verge of a first grand slam final.
Her only teenage moment in her victory over Ana Ivanovic in the quarter-finals came in the post-match interview, where she said she would like to date Justin Bieber.
Her fellow Canadian sent her a good luck message on Twitter before the match, and in the early stages it appeared Bouchard needed all the luck she could get.
At her best, Li is almost unplayable, and in the first five games, Bouchard managed just three points, none of them on her serve.
She dug in to claw two games back before Li, the French Open champion in 2011, wrapped up the set.
But the signs were positive for Bouchard heading into the second, and she won two long games to move into an early lead.
Back came Li, though, and a backhand winner drilled cross-court put her 3-2 ahead.
The five games had already taken longer than the first set but, although Bouchard was having success on Li's serve, she was struggling on her own.
The Canadian did manage to hold for only the third time in the match to force Li to serve it out, but there was no late twist, the fourth seed clinching victory with a backhand winner.
Li added of her opponent: "Maybe she will be the best player in the world."