Azarenka keeps her eye on the prize to retain title
By Nick Mulvenney
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka kept her eye firmly on the prize despite a host of distractions to rally from a set down and retain her title with victory over Li Na in a dramatic Australian Open final on Saturday.
The Belarussian had to block out an often blatantly hostile crowd, sit through two lengthy timeouts for Li's injuries and bide her time as a firework display lit up Melbourne's skyline before she finally extinguished her Chinese rival's hopes with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory.
Li twice needed treatment after heavy falls - the second time blacking out momentarily after banging her head on the court.
Azarenka looked stunned and then relieved at the end of the 160-minute contest when she realized had won her second grand slam title, ensuring she would retain the number one world ranking to boot.
Even in her moment of triumph, however, the lukewarm response of the crowd on Rod Laver Arena was a reminder of the controversy surrounding her semi-final win over Sloane Stephens.
"This one is way more emotional," she said. "It's gonna be extra special for me, for sure ... you're the only one who knows what you've been going through these two weeks.
"So it's definitely an emotional one and it's going to be special."
It was a second loss in a Melbourne Park final in three years for Li but the Chinese had been more concerned about her health after the second fall. Continued...