In the course of the meeting, Sharapova suffered a leg injury and after the first set she was forced to take a medical time-out.
After an unfortunate end to her opponent's terrific fight on Wednesday, Sharapova got a pass in what was almost her demise at the tournament.
28-year-old from Pittsburgh.
"But the shots are there. you have to get it up to another gear".
After receiving treatment off-court between sets, Sharapova sprinted out of the blocks to record a service hold and then pushed Sabalenka in the next game, creating three break-point opportunities.
"It was a tough day for us, especially to come back after the first set", Sabalenka said.
In Perth, Germany will meet Switzerland today in a repeat of last year's Hopman Cup final, after downing Australia 2-1 yesterday.
Sabalenka lost the first set to her American opponent, before coming back to win the match 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.
It's the third time in four years that Riske finished second in Shenzhen. When Sabalenka clinched a 4-2 lead, Sharapova called it quits and retired from play, bringing an end to the 1 hour and 20 minutes on the court.
It certainly put a question mark on whether the 2008 victor and three-time finalist of the Australian Open would be better in time.
Sabalenka will face either Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu or Wang Yafan of China in the semifinals.