Azarenka retains Australian Open title
Victoria Azarenka retained her Australian Open title and kept hold of the world number one spot with victory over Li Na in the Melbourne final.
The Belarusian, 23, came back from a set down to win 4-6 6-4 6-3 on a cool and blustery evening on Rod Laver Arena.
In a scrappy match, Azarenka proved the stronger in the closing stages after Li rolled her ankle twice and hit her head in two heavy falls.
The victory brought Azarenka her second Grand Slam title after last year’s win at Melbourne Park, and ensured she will not be overtaken by Serena Williams in the next world rankings.
However, it was the 30-year-old Li who carried most of the support throughout the final, due in part to Azarenka’s controversial medical timeout in her semi-final against Sloane Stephens.
Azarenka had been accused of gamesmanship, despite later insisting the timeout had been necessary because of breathing difficulties.
Either way, the negative attention she garnered in the build-up only added to the support for the already popular Li.
“Unfortunately, you have to go through some rough patches to achieve great things,” said Azarenka. “That’s what makes it so special for me. I went through that, and I’m still able to kiss that beautiful trophy.”
China’s Li, the 2011 French Open champion, had marginally the better of a desperately scrappy first set of 32 errors and 16 winners between the pair.