Tennis queen Victoria Azarenka has retained her Australian Open title and No. 1 spot in the WTA ranking with a hard-fought victory over China's Li Na.
Li, the 2011 French Open winner, stunned the favorite in the first set, breaking Azarenka early and not letting the Belarusian cut the deficit right to the end.
Azarenka woke up in the second, racing out to a 3-1 lead before Li slipped and twisted her left ankle. She had it strapped, but apparently had problems pivoting as Azarenka leveled things on court with the same scoreline – 6-4.
The Chinese harnessed her willpower and took a 2-1 lead in the decider, only for Azarenka to strain every sinew and jump to a 4-2 lead. The deficit remained insurmountable for Li, as she capitulated 6-3.
The Belarusian consequently repeated her last year’s success Down Under, which ensured she retained the number one ranking.
"It's been a long two weeks for me," says Azarenka, who collected a winner's cheque for a record $2.43 million.