Li Na edges Dominika Cibulkova for Australian Open title

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Melbourne, Australia (4E Sports) – Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets, 7-6(3), 6-0, to bag the Australian Open title Saturday at Rod Laver Arena.

The fourth-seeded Li finally won the Australian Open after losing her first two finals here. In 2011, she lost to Kim Clijsters and to Victoria Azarenka last year.

Li, who became the oldest champion in the Australian Open in the Open Era at 31, collected her second Grand Slam singles trophy and closed the gap on the No. 2 ranking held by Victoria Azarenka to 11 points. She earned $2.31 million in prize money.

“At the start of the tournament everyone was talking about age. I would like to say age is nothing. You can still win a Grand Slam. I’m pretty happy about my age. I have experience,” Li said.

Cibulkova, the first Slovakian to reach a Grand Slam final, was gracious in defeat, congratulating Li for her victory.

“These were just two fantastic weeks of my life – I think I’m going to cry,” Cibulkova said. “This means a lot for our country and I’m happy I can be the one who can be here for Slovakia.”

Li, who won all of her matches against Cibulkova, came out strong, jumping out to leads of 2-0 and 3-1, but her opponent broke right back and the two stayed neck-and-neck from there.

Li broke again for 6-5 and had a set point but missed it on a wide backhand down the line, and Cibulkova broke back to push the set to a tiebreak. Then Li hit back-to-back winners and took the set with a 7-3 win in the tiebreak.

From there it was no contest. Li stormed through the second set and eventually closed out Cibulkova to clinch her second Grand Slam title, after the 2011 French Open.

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