Photo: Paul ZimmerLi Na (CHN)
Li Na claimed her second Grand Slam title with a 76(3) 60 victory over Dominika Cibulkova at the Australian Open on Saturday. The No. 4 seed needed just one hour 37 minutes to see off the Slovakian, who was contesting her first Grand Slam final.
Cibulkova made a poor start, double-faulting twice in the opening game to give the Chinese an early break. The world No. 24 soon had things back on an even keel however when she levelled at 3-3. A nervy first set continued with Li Na getting the break at 5-5 to serve for the first set where she struggled with her ball toss and relinquished a set point. A tiebreak ensued during which Li Na took charge, playing aggressively to win the tiebreak and secure the first set.
After the edgy opening set Li Na took control of the match. Hitting more freely she found her range and proved too good for Cibulkova, sealing the second set 6-0 on her second match point.
"I really happy," said Li Na. "I try to do the best on the court, to try to hang in there to see all what I can do on the court...I really, so proud myself."
“It was my first Grand Slam finals and I'm just proud with the way I handle it,” said Cibulkova. “I just went on the court. I wanted to play my best tennis. It wasn't easy against her because she was playing extremely well so I'm quite happy.“
Li Na, who is the first woman to win the title at the Australian Open aged over 30 since Margaret Court in 1973, added the 2014 Australian Open title to the Roland Garros crown she won in 2011. She received help from the Grand Slam Development Fund as a youngster - travelling to Europe for the first time as a 16-year-old in 1998 as a member of an ITF/GSDF Touring Team.
Poland's Lukasz Kubot and Sweden's Robert Lindstedt won their first Grand Slam men's doubles title after defeating Eric Butorac (USA)/Raven Klaasen (RSA) 63 63 in the final. Prior to this year's Australian Open Kubot/Lindstedt had not won a match together.
"it means the world to me," explained Lindstedt. "I've been working so hard for this. Fighting injuries and working with the right people back home, trying to find ways to make this happen. It's a childhood dream come true, and I'm probably not going to believe it until I finish my career."
Runner-up Klaasen is another player to have benefitted from the Grand Slam Development Fund.