Li beats Cibulkova to claim Australian Open tennis title

China's Li Na weathered a feisty challenge from Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova before claiming a 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 victory to win the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam on Saturday.

Heartbroken as runner-up last year and in 2011, the 31-year-old struggled on serve and battled an errant forehand in a tight first set, before finding her range in devastating fashion to become the oldest woman to win at Melbourne Park, surpassing Margaret Court's 1973 title at the age of 30.

Cibulkova gave up two match points when she pushed a backhand long and saved one of them when Li did likewise. But Cibulkova crumbled on the second to give Li her second Grand Slam title after winning the 2011 French Open.

Asia's first Grand Slam singles winner, Li raised her hands in the air in triumph and after shaking hands with her opponent, went straight to her player's box to embrace her coach Carlos Rodriguez and members of her entourage.

'Finally I got her'
"Finally I got her [the trophy], last two times was very close," a beaming Li said at the trophy ceremony.

"Congrats to Dominika, she had a great tournament. Max my agent, makes me rich, thank you. Thanks for Carlos, who always believed I could do it. We worked so hard in the winter.

"Thanks to my husband, now so famous in China, [my] hitting partner, fixes the drinks, fixes the rackets … You do a lot a lot of jobs. Thanks a lot, you are a nice guy. You were lucky to find me."

The pint-sized Cibulkova, who won plenty of admirers at Melbourne Park after upsetting Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska on her way to the final, scrambled hard but was overpowered by Li's crunching groundstrokes in the second set.

"These were just the most fantastic two weeks of my life and I think I'm going to cry," the 24-year-old said.

"I would like to congratulate Li Na, she had a fantastic tournament, she deserves to be here as a winner."

Nervous start
After a nervous start for both players, Li was the first to settle and unleashed a blistering backhand down the line to gain a break point in the opening game against the pint-sized 20th seed, who promptly served a double fault on the next point.

Under pressure from the counter-punching Cibulkova, Li notched two double faults in a row to be broken back and Cibulkova held with a big serve to move 4-3 ahead.

Li broke Cibulkova twice and had set point on serve at 6-5, but Cibulkova survived to take the opening set into a tiebreaker.

The temperamental Chinese player found her range in time to roar to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak. But Cibulkova marshalled her defences with aplomb, scrambling to chase down everything and pull back to 5-3.

Li then blasted a huge return to earn three more set points, only needing one of them when Cibulkova netted a backhand.

Once the first set was in the bag, Li appeared far more at ease and wound up a huge forehand down the line to bring up an early break point in the second and was soon 2-0 ahead when Cibulkova pushed long.

Growing in confidence, Li began to swing at everything and broke Cibulkova again to lead 4-0 before completing an emphatic victory in her third attempt at Melbourne Park, the Grand Slam venue she has long described as her favourite. – Reuters

Advertisting

Senior SANDF colonel involved in an alleged business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal

AU pushes the frontiers of transitional justice

Now these important policy developments must be implemented

Mass store and job cuts at Massmart

Changed market conditions and an appalling economy has hit low end cash-and-carry outlets

Courts to guide land expropriation

Two bits of law need to be approved before a court can decide if land owners will be compensated
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.