Chinese tennis ace Li Na wins the women’s Australian Open final against Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova in her third attempt for the title, becoming Asia’s 1st & the oldest ever woman to win the tournament. “Age is nothing. You guys didn’t know how hard I was working,” she said. Li also thanked her husband for being a “hitting partner, baggage handler and general helper”. Li has already made the same record in the French Open in 2011 becoming Asia’s first to win either the men’s or women’s singles title. Li will now rise to world’s no 3.
Author: Dr. Abdul Ruff
Edited by Divas
Li Na from China beat Slovak player Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (3), 6-0 on January 25 becoming the oldest woman to clinch the title in the Open era.
Li lost Australian Open finals to Kim Clijsters in 2011 and to Victoria Azarenka last year. In between, she won the 2011 French Open to become the first Asian woman to win a major.
In both her previous finals at Melbourne Park, Li won the first set but went down in three.
Li stumbled and twisted her ankle while playing against Belarusian professional Azarenka last year, and needed a medical timeout in the third set after hitting her head on the court.
However, Li had no such trouble while playing against No. 20-seeded Cibulkova this time after winning the first set in a tiebreaker.
Li broke Cibulkova, held, and then had a breakpoint in the third game. Cibulkova held, and then broke Li in the sixth game thanks to consecutive double-faults.
Li again broke in the 11th game and had a set point in the 12th, but lost three straight points to ensure it went to the tiebreaker.
After rolling through the second set in 27 minutes, Li held up both thumbs to the crowd, and held back tears. Then she went to the side of the court to shake hands with her coach Carlos Rodriguez in the stands.
Li thanked her husband for being a “hitting partner, baggage handler and general helper”.
Cibulkova, one of the shortest players ever to reach a Grand Slam final at 1.61-meters (5-foot-3), had four wins over Top 20 players in the tournament, including a fourth-round upset of third-seeded Maria Sharapova and a straight-sets semifinal trouncing of No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska.
In the semifinals, Cibulkova held off 19-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, and never had to face a player ranked in the top 20 en route to the final.
Forget Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, Li Na is regarded as the hottest property in women’s tennis, not just because of her ability, but because she has opened the door to the sport’s future.
Li also made the record of Asia’s first grand slam champion at the 2011 French Open.
Li was the cover girl for last year’s Time magazine issue rating the world’s 100 most influential people, and she is listed by Forbes as the globe’s second highest-earning female athlete behind Sharapova.
After a fallow period following the 2011 French Open victory, when the distractions of sponsors and media drove her off the game, she has been reborn since teaming with coach Carlos Rodriguez in 2012.
And despite toying with the idea of retiring last year, because of poor results and press criticism in her homeland, Li has found the form of her life as she heads towards her 32nd birthday next month.
Li will now leapfrog Sharapova to become No.3 in the world, the highest ever by an Asian player, and after becoming the first Asian winner of the tournament tagged as “the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific”.