Victoria Azarenka fought back to beat Li Na in three sets to successfully defend her Australian Open title and retain the top ranking in women’s tennis.
Top-seeded Azarenka of Belarus defeated the No. 6 seed from China 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, where she broke through for her first major title 12 months ago. Li took medical timeouts in the second and third sets after going over on her ankle.
Azarenka, 23, becomes the eighth woman to win the season- opening tennis Grand Slam in consecutive years since the sport’s Open era began in 1968. Her victory also guaranteed that she’ll stay No. 1 on the tour.
It was Li’s second defeat in the championship match in Melbourne in three years following her 2011 loss to Kim Clijsters. At 30 years, 335 days, Li had been trying to become the oldest women’s winner in the Open era.
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