27 Jan 2013

Australian Open title held by Azarenka

5:07 am on 27 January 2013

Victoria Azarenka retained her Australian Open title and kept hold of the world number one tennis spot with victory over Li Na on Saturday night in Melbourne.

Azarenka 23, came back from a set down to win 4-6 6-4 6-3 on a cool and blustery evening on Rod Laver Arena.

In a scrappy match that lasted two hours and 40 minutes, the Belarusian proved the stronger in the closing stages after Li, 30, rolled her ankle twice and hit her head in two heavy falls.

Li hobbled back to her chair and took a medical timeout in the second set to get her left ankle taped.

The third set was interrupted for nine minutes by the annual Australia Day fireworks display.

The BBC reports disaster struck on the resumption, when Li crashed to the ground during the first point and rolled the same ankle, before cracking her head on the court as she fell.

"I will always keep a very special memory of this court and you will be in my heart forever," Azarenka told the crowd afterwards.

Li admitted the better player had won, but joked:"Without falling down I was feeling pretty good.

"It was a very tough match. She's number one, defending champion. I think today in the important games she was playing better than me, so that's why she can win the title."