Li carried her strong Hopman Cup form into her opening match in Sydney and dispatched Russian Makarova 6-0 6-3 in another mostly confident stride towards the year's first Grand Slam at Melbourne Park next week.
Li's groundstrokes, especially the main weapon of her forehand, were grooved but her serve was inaccurate and occasionally ineffective in the second set.
The world number five conceded her delivery needs mass improvement between now and her arrival at Melbourne Park.
Ruud beats Sousa in the Geneva final for eighth ATP Tour title
"I should improve a lot for my serve, otherwise it is not going to be easy to win my service games," she said.
"I have to work a lot more on my serve. In the second set, it did not work. Right now I'm still in Sydney, so I'm not thinking about Melbourne because I have to focus on this tournament first.
"I'm happy with how I was moving on the court, to see how I hit the shot, but I need to keep working on my serve."
Li won the Sydney title last year before reaching the final of the Australian Open.
She says her loss to Kim Clijsters in the Melbourne final helped her win the French Open as it gave her the big occasion experience.
Li declined on Monday to discuss whether her form right now was as strong as it was in Sydney 12 months ago.
"Last year is over, so I don't have to think about what I do last year," she said. "Everyone has to look forward."
Nine of the top 10 women are in Sydney in a dress rehearsal for the Australian Open, but Li was not interested in scouting the form of her rivals.
"I am just focused on what I'm doing."
Germany's Andrea Petkovic did something completely out of character after winning her opening match at the Sydney International. She simply walked to the net and shook hands.
No exuberant celebration, no 'Petko Dance,' the sprightly jig that became her trademark way of celebrating victories when she announced herself to the tennis world by reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open last year.
Having beaten Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-3 on Ken Rosewall Arena on Monday, Petkovic simply packed up her racquets and strolled away, but said she would be tripping the light fantastic again when she gets to Melbourne Park next week.
One of the more effervescent characters on the WTA Tour, Petkovic is deciding whether to replace the now defunct 'Petko Dance' with the moon walk, or a copy of the celebrations of German soccer player Bastian Schweinsteiger.
"I always try to do something new," she said. "Right now I have the 'Petko Dunk'. It's a shout-out to a fellow German athlete. It's Bastian Schweinsteiger. We met at the awards ceremony of athlete of the year."
Schweinsteiger had promised to do the 'Petko Dance' if she emulated his goal celebration.
"He told me if I do that, he's going to do the Petko Dance next time he shoots a goal. So I'm really excited if he's going to do it. He's practicing, I heard. So I'm probably doing the Petko Dunk now."
Petkovic's post-victory dancing has polarised opinion. Some found it entertaining. Others found it over-the-top for tennis and perhaps disrespectful to her defeated opponents.
"After the tournament at Miami last year, I wanted to stop it at all," she said. "I had two tournaments where I didn't do anything and I lost two times, first and second round.
"So then I brought something new back. I did the moon walk. I get annoyed and bored by myself very quickly. I don't think the other girls on tour cared about it but there are always people who don't like you if you're a little extreme.
"There are always critics. But I don't really care what people say."
Petkovic reached the quarter-finals in Brisbane last week in her first WTA event since her knee injury in October.
"I was really satisfied with the way I played today," she said. "Last week I was really struggling with my fitness. I was having ups and downs because maybe also I didn't play for a long time, two and a half months.
"I was out since Beijing, so I was struggling with finding my way into matches again. But I was really pleased with my performance today because I really played each point with a high intensity."
ATP Lyon
Norrie holds off Molcan to win first clay-court title
Norrie beats Molcan to win ATP event in Lyon