China’s Li Na, winning his second Grand Slam title with a win on the Slovak Dominika Cibulkova in the final of the Australian Open on Saturday in Melbourne, showed what she was great ambassador for his sport in his country.
Li Na had brought down a barrier in 2011, becoming with his victory at Roland Garros the first sacral Asian Grand Slam. Its success Saturday in straight sets 7-6 (7/3), 6-0, after a life marked by nervousness of two players and not necessarily very exciting final, should have an impact at least as important.
Tennis is booming in China, which hosts more tournaments, especially women. And Li Na is a super star in his country. It is followed by over 22 million people on the main Chinese microblogging site, Sina Weibo. In 2013, she was ranked by Time magazine’s annual list of the most influential people in the world. Beyond tennis, Li Na conquered the audience with his humor and playfulness. Li Na speech on the podium Saturday at the trophy, has done much for his popularity.
A Great Contrast
In his English still rough, it caused the laughter from the audience by thanking his agent to have “made rich”, and her husband Jiang Shan, usual target for his kind words, to be a “nice guy”, which is the “good work” in taking care of her.
Li Na proved she was not a single shooting star, but a great champion. She became 31 years and 334 days the oldest player in Australia crowned in the Open era (since 1968).
Monday, she will find the 3rd place in the world she had already occupied in October 2013. It will have only ten points behind the Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and can hope to go further, even if the world leader of the American Serena Williams seems inaccessible.
This victory in Australia is a great contrast to Li Na. She was inclined during his two previous finals in Melbourne in 2011 and 2013. His defeat last face Azarenka was particularly traumatic year.
She had suffered two severe falls that had ended up because of his determination. “At least I did. Not like the last two times. This time, I’m really proud of me,” she said.
Cibulkova Proud Of Herself
Not everything has been easy in this game for Li Na Very nervous, she had a huge waste in the first set (25 unforced errors, including 16 forehand) with a catastrophic game development (13% of first balls after his first three service games).
But Cibulkova, World N.24 first Slovak to reach the final of a Grand Slam tournament at the end of a beautiful journey, not his chance.
She committed herself too many mistakes (28 unforced errors to only 11 winners strokes) and watched Li Na helplessly fly to in the second set.
“It was my first Grand Slam final and I am proud of how I managed,” said she still reacted.
Li Na has not beaten a single player in the Top 16 to get there. She however had to save a match point in the third round against Czech Lucie Safarova .
But she was able to take out of the game in a fast deserted by all the other tournament favorites. Serena Williams was out in the second round, as the Russian Maria Sharapova (No.3). Azarenka, world No.2 and double defending champion, has imitated quarter.