Saturday, 26 January 2013

Victoria Azarenka retains the Australian Open, beats Li Na in three set finale

Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka claimed her second Grand Slam title as she defeated Li Na, 4-6 6-4 6-3 in the Australian Open final.  It was a match that will be remembered for its drama rather than the quality of the tennis as Li went down twice on her ankle and knocked her head on the court too.  The match itself was up-and-down; the first set was dominated by errors and service breaks, but Li was the more solid and capitalised on a flat performance from Azarenka, who was clearly not at the races and looked to be struggling with a pro-Li crowd who were more celebratory of Azarenka errors than winners.

Azarenka started to turn the screw in the second set, but still found herself wasting a double break 3-0 lead as Li pegged it back to 4-4.  The Chinese firecracker worryingly went over on her ankle, but she was able to continue although rather limply lost the second set.  The third set saw two significant delays; the first for the Australia Day fireworks and the second when Li fell once more on the first point after the restart.  She did remarkably well to stay in the match, but all the blows she had taken had sidestepped her away from her title hunt and it was Azarenka who stood tall to convert on her first match point.

It has been a strange tournament because I never felt Azarenka played that well throughout the two weeks.  She avoided both Serena and Sharapova, but dealt with every opposition she faced and proved her worth as the world number one and most consistent player on the tour right now.  There was a real absence of great matches over the past two weeks and although it was nice to see a competitive final, it has been a lukewarm start to 2013 for the women.  The tournaments continue next week in Paris and Pattaya City and I do hope you will keep following my blog as the 2013 seasons moves on towards the next big events in America, which will be the Premier Mandatories in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Mens Final - I will be tweeting live from tomorrow's Djokovic/Murray... should be a good one.