January 25

Li Na wins Australian Open on third try

Li tops Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets after losing in the finals the last two years.

By John Pye
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Li Na holds the championship trophy after defeating Dominika Cibulkova in their women’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday. She is accompanied by the tournament's ball boys and girls.

The Associated Press

The diminutive Cibulkova, one of the shortest players ever to reach a Grand Slam final at 5-foot-3, had four wins over Top 20 players on her way to the final, including a fourth-round upset of third-seeded Maria Sharapova and a straight-sets semifinal trouncing of No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska.

She had to pull the microphone down closer to her before her post-match speech.

“These were just fantastic two weeks of my life,” she said, adding: “Hello to everybody in Slovakia. This means a lot for our country and I’m happy I can be the one here for Slovakia.”

No. 4-seeded Li, who reportedly has four-times more followers on her Chinese social networking site than there are people in Slovakia, had a good run through the tournament as other star players like Serena Williams, Sharapova and Azarenka tumbled out by the quarterfinals.

She didn’t have to face a player ranked in the Top 20 en route to the final, opening with wins over the two youngest players in the tournament, then saving a match point in her third-round win over Lucie Safarova, who was a fraction away from causing a major upset.

“I think I should send email to Safarova,” Li said. “Sorry ... and send smile to her as well.”

Now she’s already promising to come back and defend her Australian title.

“Finally I got her,” Li said as she put a hand on the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup for the first time. “Last two times was very close.”

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