January 26, 2013 — In a match that saw plenty of drama and shifts in momentum as quick as you can blink, Victoria Azarenka walked away victorious once again at the Australian Open defeating Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 for her second Slam title.
Unsteady play, two medical timeouts for Li (including one for a possible concussion), and a ten-minute intermission in the third set due to a nearby fireworks display only added to the strange setting of the night’s final.
Both ladies started off nervous and couldn’t quite catch their rhythm, exchanging seven breaks of serve in the first set alone. But Li’s backhand proved to be her strength and held up long enough to give her the edge in the first set. On Li’s fourth set point, Azarenka double-faulted and the crowed erupted in support for Li.
In the second set, Azarenka quickly went up to a 3-0 lead, before Li pushed it to 1-3, 30-all. And then the unthinkable happened — Li twisted her left ankle and hobbled back to her chair, wincing. She received medical treatment and somehow came back on court firing her shots with even more vigor, surprising Azarenka. Li valiantly crawled out of the hole but the set was Azarenka’s for the taking as she targeted Li’s now crumbling backhand.
The third set held its own drama as early in the set, the Australia Day fireworks interrupted play for a whole 10 minutes. On the first point back after the break, Li once again twisted the same left ankle and crashed to the ground hitting the back of her head on the concrete. The second medical timeout of the evening came as the doctor and physio performed on-court health checks, but although shaken, Li was seen smiling and probably thinking, “What else can happen tonight?!”
Li never quite found her rhythm again sending unforced error after unforced error to give Azarenka the win.
It was evident that the past 48 hours had been tough on Azarenka with the medical timeout controversy surrounding her match with Sloane Stephens, as she broke down in tears upon winning. Simply put, she found strength within herself to put that aside and play the sport she loves. All credit to her.
But it wasn’t all tears for Azarenka, who celebrated with Champagne showers in the women’s locker room afterward with Redfoo (pictured below). Asked how she plans to commemorate her win tonight, she simply replied, “We party!”
Azarenka’s second Slam title signaled only the eighth time a women has won back-to-back titles at the Australian Open and also ensured that the Belarusian would keep her top spot in the WTA rankings come Monday.