Clijsters, Li Na Tangle Today for Australian Open Title, Who’ll Win?
by Sean Randall | January 28th, 2011, 6:59 pm
  • 46 Comments

The Australian Open is called the Grand Slam of the Asia/Pacific, so it’s only apropos that the first Chinese player every to reach a Slam singles final does it in Melbourne. Tonight, Li Na of China will try to make history against the favored Kim Clijsters in the first Major final of the tennis season.

The matchup is pretty even on certain levels. Both girls can really slug the ball from the baseline, and they are aggressive. They are both fit, disciplined and mentally tough. Both have had good success in Melbourne and tonight, they both go for their first Australian Open title.

Clijsters, the overwhelming favorite to win, hasn’t dropped a set en route to her eighth career Grand Slam final. The former “Aussie Kim” who lost in the 2004 finals to Justine Henin, was pushed in a few sets – really just first sets – but against Vera Zvonareva she really played well losing just six games in just under 1-hour, 20-minutes.

And with thoughts of another baby down the road this may be Kim’s last shot to finally win in Australia.

“I know this is probably going to be my last full season on the tour, and then we’ll see,” she said. “You know, it’s nice that I’m in this spot to reach the final, to play for the title. I think it’s something that is a great feeling to have, knowing that I’m not going to be able to come here for five more years.”

Li Na has taken a similar path to reach her first Slam final. The 28-year-old late bloomer ripped through her first five matches until a meeting with No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane had a matchpoint on her serve at 5-4 in the second set on Li but couldn’t put her away.

And comebacks have been a theme for Li.

In Sydney she overcame an early deficit to Bojana Jovanovski. And in the finals, she was down 5-0 to Kim Clijsters before she roared back to win the set in a tiebreak and eventually win the match and title. Last year, too, she was down a matchpoints at the Australian Open before winning.

“I always strong in the mind,” said Li. “I wish this time I not start 5 0 down, yeah. I mean, last year also I play here in the third round. Opponent also have two match point I save. So I come to the semifinal. So, you know, in China, we say you have tough time, but you come over. That means you have best of luck. So I wish it is come with me to the final.”

Added Clijsters of that Sydney final, “I think the first five games I played really well there. I stayed very aggressive, stayed on top of my baseline. But that’s something that she’s going to do as well. I think it’s going to be a matter of who’s going to be able to do that first. Who’s going to be a little bit more powerful and with the less amount of unforced errors is going to have the best chance to win out there tomorrow.”

The two have met six times in total and Clijsters does have the 4-2 lead, including three times already in Australia (Clijsters leads 2-1 all in Sydney).

Li Na has won her last 11 matches, Clijsters 10 of 11, that loss coming to Li Na in Sydney.

For the me the match between the lines is about even. Seo it will com down to experience and in this case I have to give the edge to Clijsters. Kim’s won three Slams before and she’s already been to one final in Australia. She also knows that she blew that monster lead in Sydney. So with the clock ticking on her pro tennis lifespan, I think Kim will seize the opportunity and get the job done in straight sets to win her fourth career Slam title.

The match airs on TV at 3:30am ET live on ESPN2.


Also Check Out:
No Li Way as Clijsters Wins First Australian Open Title
Kim Clijsters Beats Caroline Wozniacki In Come-Back Exo
Kim Clijsters Will Miss French Open, Clay Season
Clijsters Beats Schnyder; How Weak is WTA Tour?
Kim Clijsters: I Feel Fresh And Ready To Go [Video]

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46 Comments for Clijsters, Li Na Tangle Today for Australian Open Title, Who’ll Win?

Kimberly Says:

Go Na Li!!!!!


dAri Says:

This is one I can just sit back and relax. Want Li na to get her first, want kimmie to get her first non-uso. Surely during the match I will pick a side. Until then…


Gregoire Gentil Says:

I certainly won’t put the alarm clock. I have still not recovered from the events of the last two days on single and double women draw!


Kimmi Says:

got my alarm clock set, i will be up for the match!


Lulu Iberica Says:

I will be making a nice breakfast, then watching the re-airing of the match at the very reasonable hour of 9 AM. I’ve been rooting for Kim, but now this whole history-making bit has me conflicted. I figured Kim would be playing Woz or maybe Henin. Anyway, it would be awesome for tennis if Li won.


margot Says:

Like stu said for the Andy, Nole match- I want them both to win!
Perfect time for us Brits…no alarm clocks needed for us ;)


steve-o Says:

Rooting for Li.


contador Says:

okay…my phone alarm worked. fully awake.

let’s go…Li Na! AO radio just had an interview with her …she makes me smile.

but kim the favorite. but whatever the result, i hope it’s not a blow-out.


margot Says:

wow! Li’s a little tornado! Well, if she wins her first slam I shall be very happy, will take it as an omen for Andy ;)


Gregoire Gentil Says:

Too much work + I couldn’t sleep, so I watch. Kim, please punish Na!


thark Says:

good (morning?) everyone – prying eyes open – appears li has overcome her nerves…


jane Says:

I cannot stay awake any longer, so tired. May have to watch a re-airing like Lulu. Will be happy for both. But Li Na is such a character, she’s really kind of grown on me here!


dAri Says:

Uh oh, Li na has the break! Kim better watch out…
Don’t know how awake I can stay.
Oh I don’t know who I want! Li na great aggressive, first major, or kimmie who is def gonna leave tennis very soon?


jane Says:

She is playing great at the moment!


margot Says:

and Na breaks crucial game 7. Ferocious forehand she has. Anyone who’s watched her more than me, can she volley?
Night jane :)


margot Says:

wow, first set to Na. Come on Kim, I want 3 sets! BTW why didn’t someone tell Kim about her dress? It really is a sweaty disaster :(


dAri Says:

Margot- good question, I’ve seen about 3 or 4 matches and can recall hardly any net point for her!


jane Says:

Li Na is keeping me awake. Nice passing shot to take the opening set. She made Kim look a little flat, i thought.


jane Says:

margot, no kidding. Bad sweat marks. You would think they would design sportswear with these things in mind.


margot Says:

jane, white never shows ;) Not gone to bed yet, u r another night owl :)


margot Says:

dAri: thought not, sad lack in men and women’s tennis, why we all love Llodra- um… when he’s playing well of course :)


Huh Says:

oh gods, plz side with Li Na!


margot Says:

hi Huh! come on Na, yes? She is terrific, but I do want 3 sets.


Kimmi Says:

ah, my phone alarm didnt work..but I am up now.

What ! wow! Kim down a set.

Kim cannot hold..what! c’mon Kim


Kimmi Says:

Li is going to win. she is a better player..good for her.


thark Says:

announcer just said “the guy putting up the break point placard is getting repetitive strain injury at the moment.”

c’mon kimmie give us a 3rd set!


Gregoire Gentil Says:

Kimmi: seems that we will have a third set ;-)


Kimmi Says:

yeeees! whoever wins now will be good for me


margot Says:

Ah, we have out third set :) Kim has found her range now, Na will have to fight and fight. She is much more confident with her groundies, not so good in the air, returned a smash straight to Kim :(
Come on Na!


Gregoire Gentil Says:

Brad Gilbert on ESPN3 is right. Kim’s new strategy (high ball then acceleration) is suffocating Na.


Kimmi Says:

Kim with the lead but..but..you never really get comfortable with kim. she can start the walk about any time.

The high ball has helped so far


Kimmi Says:

DF..eeek!


Kimmi Says:

kim holds. not over till the fat lady sings


margot Says:

Ah, Na looks beat, shame :( Horrendous number of unforced errors in this set. Kim coasting.


Kimmi Says:

great hold kim…go go go!

maybe if my fave kim wins murray will win too…aaaaah


Kimmi Says:

oh noooo! the difficult part


Kimmi Says:

yay! kim. congrats. Sorry Li Na. It was a good tourny for her too..

great match!

Now Go Muzza

Kim Crying! Oh Nooo! she wanted This sooo much..Go Kim


thark Says:

congrats to kimmie and fans!

incredible effort by li!


margot Says:

well played kim! Walked away with it in third set! Congratulations to Na, fabulous achievement.
Sorry huh :(


dAri Says:

Whoaaa, fell asleep, thought Li Na was gonna get it. Congrats Kim, glad you got one besides uso! Congrats to la ni, hope she has a great year and gets one!


Gregoire Gentil Says:

Great speech from Kim. The one-time dentist should be in heaven at the moment!!! Too funny.


steve-o Says:

Congratulations to Clijsters. Experience more than anything made the difference, I think.

Li’s best result, hope she can win a major sometime…


jane Says:

Also fell asleep. Congrats to Kim for her win, and to Na Li for her run to the final.


grendel Says:

margot, from what I’ve seen, Li Na’s volleying and smashing is rudimentary. It’s some hours now, since the final, but there was a telling moment in set 3 when Li had a relatively straightforward drive volley to deal with – and she backed off, let the ball bounce, was unable to generate a decent pace, and so handed the point to Clijsters – who was given all the time in the world.

It seems Li has, for one reason or another, taken an aweful lot of time off the tour – boredom, injury, study – so although she’s 28, she will have played no more than some women 5 years younger than her. So hopefully, she’s got many more years in her. Since she seems to have a low boredom threshold, why not use the time to learn some new techniques? She may never become a great volleyer but at least she can become competent – and I’d have thought it’s never too late to learn to smach decently.


grendel Says:

steve-o says:” Experience more than anything made the difference, I think.” That’s exactly what I was thinking. Went both ways – Clijsters didn’t panic, Li did allow the situation to get to her. Next time round, should be different.


Huh Says:

DEAR MRS. MARGOT:

Thanks for ur kind words n enthusiastic support for me and our lady Na, I m admittedly not happy with the result of ladies’ final, but have to accept it. Only I know wat a feeling it’d have been had Li Na won, I’d hav celebrated it with wine n chinese delicacies, but now it’s too late. I badly wanted Na to win, but it wasn’t in her destiny, nothing can be done about it. Still I hope Li Na can win a slam n create history for herself n her(my) country.

However, congrats to Kimmi n other Kim fans.
I like Kim but not against my countrywomen today. But KIM DESERVEDLY WON.

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