Defending champion Clijsters beat Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets. Li went through after Anabel Medina Garrigues twisted her ankle and tearfully retired while trailing 3-0.
Clijsters beat Li 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the 2011 Australian Open for her only title of the year. She later was sidelined by injuries.
“That was one of my favorite matches I’ve ever played. I won, so that helped,” she said. “Of all the Grand Slam finals I’ve played, that was the one with the highest standard.”
Li won the next Grand Slam she entered, lifting the French Open trophy to become the first Asian player to win a major singles title.
“Although she lost, I think it helped her to win the French Open,” Clijsters said.
Clijsters is 5-2 against Li.
TAKE IT EASY: Jelena Jankovic is speaking from experience when she tells the media to lay off Caroline Wozniacki.
Jankovic will play top-ranked Wozniacki in the fourth round of the Australian Open in a meeting of players who held the No. 1 spot without winning a Grand Slam title.
The 26-year-old Serb, through to the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time since 2009, is relieved she doesn’t have to justify herself.
“I’m not in that situation right now, so I don’t have to deal with any of that,” said Jankovic, who reached the No. 1 ranking in August 2008 and held it for 18 weeks.
Jankovic, whose best Grand Slam result was a runner-up finish at the 2008 U.S. Open, hopes the media will go easy on the 21-year-old Wozniacki.
“I think you kind of give her a little hard time sometimes,” she said. “I think sometimes you just should let it go.
“She’s pretty young. I think she’s gonna win those big tournaments in the future sooner or later.”
KEEPING UP: For all the talk about the young up-and-comers like Bernard Tomic and Milos Raonic, the older guys were still getting it done at Melbourne Park.
Seven men over the age of 30 advanced to the third round of the singles draw at the Australian Open: Ivo Karlovic (32), Juan Ignacio Chela (32), Michael Llodra (31), Lleyton Hewitt (30), Roger Federer (30), Julien Benneteau (30), Feliciano Lopez (30) and Nicolas Mahut (30).
Three of the veterans played Friday. Federer eliminated Karlovic, and Lopez held off John Isner.