MELBOURNE, Australia, January 26 – Victoria Azarenka won an incident-packed final against an injury-hit Li Na to successfully defend her Australian Open title and retain the world number one ranking on Saturday.
After a scrappy match marked by boos for Azarenka, a break for Australia Day fireworks and two painful falls for China’s Li, the Belarusian top seed dissolved in tears after sealing the 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win.
Li required two medical timeouts, when she twice twisted her left ankle and also banged her head on the court, in a match also interrupted for nine minutes at a crucial stage by the fireworks.
Azarenka overcame a pro-Li crowd that was clearly unimpressed by her controversial medical timeout in the semi-finals, which she took after blowing five match points.
It was a gutsy effort from the 23-year-old as she came back from a set down and sealed it on her first match point in 2hr 40min to clinch her second Grand Slam title.
Azarenka became only the fourth active player to hold two or more majors, behind Serena Williams with 15, Venus Williams with seven, Maria Sharapova with four and Svetlana Kuznetsova with two.