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Azarenka fights back to reclaim Australian Open title

Last updated on: January 26, 2013 18:36 IST

Azarenka fights back to reclaim Australian Open title

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Victoria Azarenka retained her Australian Open title on Saturday with a tense 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over China's Li Na, who suffered a sickening ankle injury in the second set and hit her head in the third when she twisted the joint for a second time.

- Azarenka overcomes Li to retain Australian Open title

Li dominated the first set but Azarenka raced out to a 3-1 lead in the second before Li slipped and twisted her left ankle. She had it strapped but had problems pivoting and Azarenka won the set 6-4.


Image: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the 2013 Australian Open on Saturday
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

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Ankle injury stops Li in her stride

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The Chinese sixth seed, who won the French Open title in 2011, took a 2-1 lead in the decider before an Australia Day fireworks display delayed play for some 10 minutes. She immediately went over on her ankle again when they returned and hit her head.

A smiling Li returned to court but Azarenka managed to break in the fifth game, then hold serve to jump to a 4-2 lead and she sealed the title, which ensured she retained the world number one ranking, when she broke Li in the ninth game.

Image: Li Na receives medical attention during her women's final against Victoria Azarenka on Saturday
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Tags: Li , Azarenka

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Li broke Azarenka twice to take early lead

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Azarenka dropped her racket to the ground and, after shaking hands with Li and the umpire Alison Lang, went tearfully to her players' box where she was embraced by her support staff and friends who included American musician Redfoo.

Perhaps weighed down by expectation from the most populous nation in the world and with an estimated 100 million people watching on television in China, Li had a shaky start, serving a double fault on the first point and having her serve broken.

The world number six, however, bounced straight back to the delight of the overwhelmingly pro-Li crowd in Rod Laver Arena and used her powerful forehand to break Azarenka twice to hold a 3-1 lead.

Image: Victoria Azarenka (left) of Belarus and Li Na of China with their respective trophies after their women's final at the Australian Open on Saturday
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

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Azarenka found her range with her groundstrokes in the 2nd set

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Azarenka battled back to break to reduce the deficit to 3-2, but was broken again by Li, who was relentlessly attacking the Belarussian's serve.

Azarenka was able to hold for the first time in the eighth game and break in the ninth, but Li broke again on her fourth set point when the Belarussian double faulted to take the first set 6-4.

Azarenka finally found her range with her groundstrokes in the second set and moved a lot better to race out to a 3-0 lead.

Li broke back, but then badly hurt her ankle after she was forced to change direction to try to reach an Azarenka backhand volley.


Image: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a forehand
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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Azarenka fought back well to break Li

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The Chinese took a medical timeout to have the ankle heavily strapped but held serve on her return and got three break points in the next game as both players tightened up and were seemingly unable to hold serve.

Li was broken again in the ninth game to give Azarenka a 5-4 lead and she served out to love in the next game to send it into a decider when a Li forehand sailed wide.

Both had problems settling again after the interruptions to the third set but Azarenka achieved the crucial break and was able to hold things together long enough to earn her second grand-slam title when a Li forehand sailed long over the baseline.

Image: Victoria Azarenka celebrates with friend and LMFAO singer Redfoo in her player's box after winning her women's final against Li Na of China
Photographs: Marianna Massey/Getty Images
Tags: Azarenka

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