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Li Na Wins First Australian Open
Posted by Rudy Martinez on Jan 25, 2014 - 1:38:02 PM

Li Na holding her Australian Open trophy.
—The third time was the charm for China’s best tennis player as she clinched her second Grand Slam in four years. The fourth seeded Li Na beat Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets 7-6(3), 6-0. Li who is turning 32 next month will have much to celebrate as she finished off her opponent in a mind-blowing 97 minutes, giving her the third ranked position among the world’s best women in tennis.


After having the easiest runs of any tournament beating unknown names, Na found Cibulkova her biggest challenge while the Slovakian fought hard, dispatching Maria Sharapova and Agnieska Radwanska leading to the final. Facing Na didn’t come easy for the 24 year-old who reached the top for the first time in her career.


Li’s troubles began to build with 25 unforced errors that helped Cibulkova make a comeback and led the first set into a tie breaker and put the audience on edge.


The Slovakian made amazing returns as she frantically went after the ball, refusing to give up any points when she had a handle on her opponent. The tenacity from Cibulkova eventually led to Li breaking away in the 14th game 7-3, as her dominance showed further success in the match. The set ended after 1 hour and 10 minutes of what looked to be a hard-fought battle to the end. “It's like after if you win a very tight first set, you think, Okay, already one set in the pocket. Like feeling one feet already touching in trophy,” said Li in a statement.


It became a complete landslide for Li as she grew in strength, putting Cibulkova in her place, sweeping the second set with 34 winners. “After she won the first two games, she just, I would say, relaxed. She was more relaxed and she was going for her shots,” Cibulkova said in a post-game press conference. “After that it was impossible for me to do something and be aggressive because she was just really, really playing well.”


The forehanded shots that Li found hard to correct turned into a natural swing of the racket that gave her a second Grand Slam Title in three years. The Chinese won the 2011 French Open, defeating Kim Clijsters all while trailing. After being beaten by Clijster’s in 2011 and Victoria Azarenka in 2012, Li can enjoy the feeling of being the first Asian to win the Australian Open.


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