Na Li went in to the ladies’ final of the Aussie Open as the odds-on favourite to take her second Grand Slam crown on her third attempt, having lost out in 1011 to Kim Clijsters and in 2013 to Victoria Azarenka. Her opponent, 20th seeded Dominika Cibulkova, has been on red hot form throughout the tournament and, like a terrier with a bone, never gives up. It was her first Slam final, although she had got as far as the semis at the French Open in 2009. Both players had only dropped one set on their routes to the last match, with Li saving match point against Lucie Safarova and the Slovak dropping the middle set to Maria Sharapova. The final was played under sunny skies at 18° and Aussie Kerrilyn Kramer was the Chair Umpire.
Li won the toss and chose to receive, whereupon she immediately broke the Slovak. Cibulkova got on the scoreboard in the 3rd game and broke back to level in the 6th game. Now finding her superb range and Li also playing fine tennis, the pair went to a breaker after the Chinese had broken for 6-5, where Li dominated to take it 7-3 in an hour and ten minutes. Even though Li took the second set to love, it was a matter of a point here and a point there with Cibulkova chasing down everything Li could throw at her. Li finally took the set on her second championship point in twenty seven minutes to lift the trophy, take home a cheque for AUS2,650,000 and move up to number 3 in the rankings. Cibulkova will be number 11 on Monday.
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