January 27, 2013

Azarenka at top Down Under

The Belarusian shakes off controversy from a semifinal to win the Australian Open.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Victoria Azarenka of Belarus won the trophy and wasn’t about to let it go Saturday, repeating as the Australian Open champion with a three-set victory against Li Na of China. Azarenka had been criticized for an injury timeout in a semifinal victory against Sloane Stephens.

The Associated Press

RECENT AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S FINALS

2013: Victoria Azarenka def. Li Na, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

2012: Victoria Azarenka def. Maria Sharapova, 6-3, 6-0

2011: Kim Clijsters def. Li Na, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

2010: Serena Williams def. Justine Henin, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

2009: Serena Williams def. Dinara Safina, 6-0, 6-3

2008: Maria Sharapova def. Ana Ivanovic, 7-5, 6-3

2007: Serena Williams def. Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-2

2006: Amelie Mauresmo def. Justine Henin-Hardenne, 6-1, 2-0, retired

2005: Serena Williams def. Lindsay Davenport, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0

2004: Justine Henin-Hardenne def. Kim Clijsters, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3

"The things what happened in the past, I did the best thing I could to explain and it was left behind me already."

The match contained plenty of nervy moments and tension, and 16 service breaks, nine for Li. But it also produced plenty of winners and bravery on big points.

Azarenka will retain the No. 1 ranking she's mostly held since her first Grand Slam win in Melbourne last year.

Li moved into the top five and is heartened by a recent trend of Australian runner-ups winning the French Open. She accomplished that in 2011, as did Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Maria Sharapova (2012).

"I wish I can do the same this year, as well," Li said.

Sunday's men's final features two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and U.S. Open winner Andy Murray. Djokovic is seeking to become the first man in the Open era to win three titles in a row in Australia.

Azarenka was planning a night of partying to celebrate her second major title, with her friend Redfoo and the Party Rock crew, and was hopeful of scoring some tickets to the men's final.

She said she needed to let her hair down after a draining two weeks and hoped that by being more open and frank in recent times she was clearing up any misconceptions the public had of her.

"When I came on the tour I was lost a little," he said. "I didn't know how to open up my personality. It's very difficult when you're alone. I was independent since I was, you know, 10 years old. It was a little scary and I wouldn't show my personality.

"So the (last) couple of years I learned to open up to people and to share the moments."

MEN'S DOUBLES: Mike and Bob Bryan became the most decorated doubles team in Grand Slam history by winning their 13th major title, beating the unseeded Dutch pair of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-4 in 53 minutes.

The 34-year-old identical twin Americans had been tied with the Australian greats John Newcombe and Tony Roche with 12 major titles.

"To be a part of history is pretty special," Mike Bryan said. "We weren't thinking about it much out there but now that we have it, it's going to be fun to look back on our career and say we have the most Grand Slams."

After converting their third match point, the brothers jumped and bumped chests, then clapped their hands on their rackets to the several hundred fans who stayed after the women's singles final.

 

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