The seventh-ranked Li benefited from a slew of unforced errors by Azarenka in the first set and then broke to lead 2-1 in the second. But the defending champion from Belarus won five straight games to level the match before coming up just short in the decider.
Azarenka was accompanied to Thailand by American rapper Redfoo of LMFAO. She will start her WTA season by playing in the Brisbane International next week. She said "I was surprised by the court. It was my first match, I should have practiced a bit more. But Li Na played so well."
Li will next play in the Shenzhen Open in China.