World #1 Azarenka successfully defends her Australian Open title
Victoria “Vika” Azarenka has shown the world why she is the reigning World number 1, with a gutsy performance against China’s Li Na at the Australian Open Women’s Final in Melbourne.
Despite a sluggish start, where Azarenka trailed 2-5 in the opening set, the 23 year upped her game and took out the next two sets to defend her title 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in 2 hours and 40 minutes. Delivering when she needed to, the top seed played consistent and aggressive tennis to secure her place in history as the 8th person ever to successfully defend their Australian Open title.
And in tradition, a final would not be what it is without its share of drama and twists. From physical wounds to emotional “scars”, this match was no exception.
Start with Li Na. The 30 year old “veteran” had her fair share of challenges on court. Twice rolling her ankle and then hitting her head in the match, the Chinese warrior embodied the spirit of a true champion, never giving in and battling on. Unfortunately, with 57 unforced errors mounting in the 3rd set, the WTA ranked #7 struggled to maintain form and stay in the match.
“I think today in like important games she was play better than me, so that’s why she can win the title,” said Li Na.
And then Azarenka. Following her infamous “medical” time out in the semi-final against Sloane Stephens, the world no. 1 had a lot to distract her and make her feel unease. With loud roars every time her Chinese opponent won a point, the crowd was certainly vying for Azarenka’s demise. Determined to not lose her world number one ranking, the Belarussian, fought hard and held strong.
“My mentality was to come and try to win another title. That was my main goal. It was definitely not easy with all the attention, you know, with all the press around,” said Azarenka.
Whilst Azarenka was certainly not popular coming in to the match, the Australian crowd did seem to woo her on as the match came to a close. Proving that a champion can overcome any obstacle, the Bellarussian was proud of her achievements. And rightly so.
“It’s been tough but I am happy here right now,” said an emotional Azarenka.
“You have to go through rough patches to achieve great things.”
So what’s next for the world number 1?
Whilst Azarenka’s victory confirms her No. 1 status for at least a few more weeks, I think Serena Williams is going to be hard to hold off. I am betting on an equally impressive performance at the French Open from Azarenka, but I suspect the current world No 1 better watch for what’s coming!