Li Na wanted to make it three out of three at the Sydney International, having won it for the last two years, but it was not to be, as Victoria Azarenka snatched victory from the Asian in a three-set match that lasted for nearly two hours.
Li was on a fantastic run, having won the French Open in 2011 by defeating Kim Clijsters. The Belarusian, Azarenka, had a fantastic run at the Sydney International, having defeated Jelena Jankovic and Marion Bartoli before defeating Li in the finals. It was the ninth career WTA title for the world no. 3, defeating her 29-year old Chinese opponent 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
The Belarusian broke the Asian’s serve on three occasions in the first set and absolutely blitzed the first set. The first set was over in a shade over half an hour. At this point, it looked like Azarenka would cream Li Na, but it wasn’t going to be so. Li called her husband-cum-coach on to the court to get some tips.
This significantly improved her game in the second round. She broke Azarenka’s serve twice, during the fourth and sixth games, and snatched the set when the Belarusian struck a forehand wide. This brought the game level, with the third set promising to be a tight one.
During the third set, both players broke each other’s serve. But the Asian’s serve was broken in the eighth game, and Azarenka wasted no time in taking that opportunity, winning the match in the second match point.
Li Na goes into the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, the Australian Open, with this defeat still fresh. But she is confident of a good show, having won six consecutive matches at the Sydney International, defeating the Wimbledon Champion and world no. 2, Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals. She is one of the favourites to win, according to the latest online Australian Open odds. Good luck Li!