MELBOURNE, Australia — Li Na has built her career on being a groundbreaking Asian tennis player, and her resume will continue to grow after she became the first Asian to win the Australian Open, defeating Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (3), 6-0 in the final on Saturday.
It was a nervy contest between Li, who was in her third Australian Open final in four years, and Cibulkova, who was playing her first Grand Slam final of her young career. Li pushed her nerves aside just in time to take the first set tiebreaker, and then rolled through the second set, winning in an hour and 37 minutes.
Highlights and reactions to Li’s win below:
Highlights and video
Li Na’s hilarious victory speech:
Dominika Cibulkova’s post-match speech:
Li Na stops by the ESPN studios after her win:
Photo of the match
4: Players who have won the Australian Open after saving match point. Li saved match point against Lucie Safarova in the third round and now joins a list that includes Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, and Serena Williams.
11: Points that now separate No. 2 Victoria Azarenka and Li, who will be No. 3 on Monday.
0: Number of top 20 players Li had to defeat to win the title.
12: Consecutive wins for Li to start her 2014 season.
16: Number of times a Slam has been won by a player aged 30 or over in the Open Era.
5: Years between Cibulkova’s first Slam semifinal in 2009 and her first Slam final tonight.
13: Cibulkova’s new ranking on Monday. She started the tournament ranked No. 24.
What they said
Li: “Today in the beginning was little bit tough because more tight. Before come to the court I was tell myself, Don’t think about. Just play your game. Don’t think about the final. But the situation, you cannot thinking this is normal match. Final is the final. Beginning was little bit tough. But I think I was start when the tiebreak start. I was thinking about, Okay, now you have to go, otherwise it’s very tough for you.”
Li: “It’s like after if you win a very tight first set, you think, Okay, already one set in the pocket. Like feeling one feet already touching in trophy. So, yeah, of course if you have one set in pocket, second set you can play more aggressive, attack her.”
Li: “Of course is very easy to say I want to win another one. But I think if you are tennis athlete, you have to know how much working have to be done for only to win the Grand Slam. So of course if I want to win another one or two, I have to go back to court hard working and also even more tough than before, otherwise no chance.”
Li: “You know, when like last year I say I want to be top 3, nobody believe. Beginning this year I say, I want to win another Grand Slam title. Nobody believe. More important is I believe, he believe, my team believe. That’s all.”
Cibulkova: “Maybe tomorrow morning I will be 100% proud of myself. But now it’s just maybe like 50% (laughter). You know, it was my first Grand Slam finals and I’m just proud with the way I handle it. You know, I just went on the court. I wanted to play my best tennis. It wasn’t easy against her because she was playing extremely well. So I’m quite happy.”
Cibulkova: “She was the one who was dictating the game, you know. Today I can only regret that my serve was not really there ‑ maybe because I felt not a little nervous, but my serve wasn’t working, you know. Then she could push me from the first balls, and I was under pressure all the times. Sometimes I catch myself running one meter behind the baseline. That’s not how I play. This is why she was better.”
Cibulkova: “When I played my first semifinals of a Grand Slam I just went on the court. I was 19 years old. I was just like happy I’m already there and I was not fighting for the finals. Now I know how is it to play the finals. I’m not saying it was the same today, but I think you have to go through some things to learn, you know.”
Cibulkova: “I have to say she’s one of the nicest players on tour. I really like her. I think everybody likes her sense of humor, you know. Yeah, she’s a great player and a grand champion.”
— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) January 25, 2014
Congratulations to Li Na for her @australianopen title! A great champion and even better person!
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) January 25, 2014
— Kamakshi Tandon (@Kamakshi_Tandon) January 25, 2014
— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) January 25, 2014
Li Na wins 7-6, 6-0….Rolex got it right. pic.twitter.com/hXRrmo86xx
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) January 25, 2014