Playing the Australian Open final for the third time, China’s Li Na finally succeeded in going all the way to the trophy by working hard in the first set before cruising through the second to outclass first-time Grand Slam finalist Dominika Cibulkova.
The fourth-seeded Li took command right at the start, breaking Cibulkova in the opening game and consolidating that lead with a hold for 2-0. Two holds of serve followed and about half an hour of play, the first Slovakian Grand Slam finalist Cibulkova spiced things up by winning three straight games to lead 4-3. Li performed well to get equal again for 4-4 and in the next game Cibulkova executed a big hold of her serve, saving a break point and establishing lead again, however, on Cibulkova’s next serve Li again threatened with a double break point and used her first to go up again. But it was not to be over yet. Leading 6-5 30-30, Li faltered at the net and gave Cibulkova a chance to force a tiebreak, which the Slovakian did, but not immediately, after a few twists and turns.
In the tiebreak Li stormed to a 5-1 lead and never looked back, taking the first set in 70 minutes and the second in just 27 minutes. Final score: 7-6(3) 6-0. The 20th-seeded Cibulkova hit only 11 winners to 28 double faults in the match, while Li’s differential was +4, 34 winners to 30 unforced errors.
En route to her second Grand Slam title, after the 2011 French Open, Li defeated Ana Konjuh in the first round, Belinda Bencic in the second, then saved a match point against seed No.26 Lucie Safarova in the third, eliminated seed No.22 Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth, seed No.28 Flavia Pennetta in the quarterfinals, seed No.30 Eugenie Bouchard in the semis and finally the surprise finalist Cibulkova, who missed her chance in the first set and faded away in the second. (photo: ©Neal Trousdale)
Li Na had the easiest draw in any major in history!! She almost lost to Safarova whose ball for the win was just out. She played no one in the top 20!!
Yes, she may have had an easy draw, but there’s nothing she can do about it, right? She had a great tournament and while other top names fell, she stood tall.
JohnnyB, you always need luck in life and at the end of the day it is the title that counts.
Tenniz-fan, that’s right, it wasn’t her fault and she sure deserved it since it was her third appearance in the GS final.
James, I also enjoyed seeing new faces at the later stages of the tournament, or old faces going so far for the first time.
Li was the best player throughout the tournament and fully deserved her win. It was a pretty good final and nice to see new faces such as Cibulkova and Bouchard make deep runs at a Slam. I am intrigued to see Li play Serena in the year and whether she can finally get a win over her.
JohnnyB – It is not Li’s fault and she never had the easiest draw in the tennis GS history. She was slotted to play Kvitova in the quarter-finals and Serena in the semi-finals. What Li could do was to keep up her bid by reaching the quarter-finals and the semi-finals. It was not her fault that Kvitova and Serena did not make it that far.
Plus, you said it yourself. She ALMOST lost to Safarova, she did NOT lose to Safarova and again it was not her fault that Safarova’s shot landed out.
She was the terrific throughout the fortnight, except may be the first two sets of the match against Safarova and she truly deserves the win. She did what she had to do i-e beat the player on the other side of the net and that is pretty much it.