Tennis: Azarenka triumphs Down Under

Victoria Azarenka won an incident-packed final against an injury-hit Li Na to successfully defend her Australian Open title and retain the world number one ranking on Saturday.

Azarenka: tear of joy

Azarenka: tear of joy

After a scrappy match marked by boos for Azarenka, a break for Australia Day fireworks and two painful falls for China’s Li, the Belarusian top seed dissolved in tears after sealing the 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win.

Li Na being treated after a fall

Li Na being treated after a fall

Li required two medical timeouts, when she twice twisted her left ankle and also banged her head on the court, in a match also interrupted for nine minutes at a crucial stage by the fireworks.

Azarenka overcame a pro-Li crowd that was clearly unimpressed by her controversial medical timeout in the semi-finals, which she took after blowing five match points.

It was a gutsy effort from the 23-year-old as she came back from a set down and sealed it on her first match point in 2hr 40min to clinch her second Grand Slam title.

Azarenka became only the fourth active player to hold two or more majors, behind Serena Williams with 15, Venus Williams with seven, Maria Sharapova with four and Svetlana Kuznetsova with two.

“It’s been a real long two weeks,” Azarenka said. “I will always keep very special memories of this court. It will be in my heart forever. The last thing I want to say is, happy Australia Day everybody.”

Meanwhile Li will count herself desperately unlucky after she twisted her ankle in the second set, and then went over heavily on it again after the fireworks, banging her head and appearing dazed before continuing.

“Congratulations to Victoria,” said Li, who had tears in her eyes after the match. “Fantastic result here for two years, so well done.”

Match statistics after the Australian Open women’s final between Victoria Azarenka and Li Na on Saturday (x denotes seeding):

Victoria Azarenka (BLR x1) v Li Na (CHN x6) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

Time: 2hr 40min

Azarenka Li

1 Aces 4

4 Double Faults 5

18 Winners 36

28 Unforced Errors 57

9/12 Break Point Conversions 7/18

100 Total Points Won 92

source: the