Fragile No. 1 Wozniacki Loses; Clijsters v Li in Australian Open Final
by Staff | January 27th, 2011, 6:43 am

China’s Na Li became the first Asian player, male or female, to reach a Grand Slam final on Thursday when she defeated Slam-less world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
The No. 9-seeded Li had beaten the Woz in their last two meetings, but that streak looked like it would come to an end when the Dane served for the match at 6-3, 5-4. Li saved a match point with a stunning forehand down the line, broke back twice to take the second set 7-5, and won the third set by brute force.

In the third Li battered 15 winners to none for the steady put power-challenged Dane, whose strategy of consistency and chasing down balls was no match for the double-handed power of Li.

“I made a lot of mistakes in the first set and in the beginning of the second set, but after I saved match point I thought, ‘Okay, now’s your chance,'” Li said. “It’s tough playing against her. She’s running — I felt some of my shots were winners but every time she got the ball back. It’s tough for everyone to play against.”

Wozniacki was left to rue a match point on her racquet, at a point in the match where her strategy was working, and Li was doing little more than producing errors.

“Sometimes in tennis it’s one ball that can change everything,” Wozniacki said. “I didn’t get my match point. From then on, she was just better. She won the most important point — the last one…It’s quite difficult to get through this one. I just need to get back on the practice court and keep working hard. Hopefully I’ll get many more chances.”

In the final Li will face former No. 1 Kim Clijsters, who ousted world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-3.

The No. 3-seeded Clijsters had lost three of her last four meetings against Zvonareva, but simply overpowered the Russian in an hour and 13 minutes. The aggressive Belgian won 12 of 15 points at the net, ending the match with flair as a drop volley dribbled beyond Zvonareva’s reach.

“I was happy with the way I played,” Clijsters said. “Happy that I was able to raise my level against an opponent where I have to play well and where I have to be very consistent throughout it all…I was able to just stay very aggressive throughout it all and keep my unforced errors down and put a lot of pressure on her.”

Still climbing the ranks since her return from retirement to start a family, Clijsters has now won 14 of her last 15 matches against Top 10 players. Since her comeback she has won the 2009-10 US Open titles, and finds herself in another Slam final in Melbourne after finishing runner-up to fellow Belgian Justine Henin in 2004.

The 2011 Australian Open women’s final will be a rematch of the Sydney final a few weeks ago, when Clijsters jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but then took her foot off the gas and ended up losing the match in straight sets.

“It’ll be an interesting one,” Clijsters said. “But I have to say I didn’t feel my best out there during that [Sydney] final. I think at some point I was already worried about playing [Dinara] Safina in the first round here and everything. But she played extremely well to get back, and was very focused and determined and just hit some incredible shots out there. She’s playing with obviously a lot of confidence — so am I. Should be a good one.”

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17 Comments for Fragile No. 1 Wozniacki Loses; Clijsters v Li in Australian Open Final

mmm Says:

I hope Li Na gets her again in the final.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Li Na is my new tennis hero! Still, I want Kimmy to prove she can win outside the USO. She really is the best at the moment.

Kimberly Says:

I want Li Na! She’s awesome.

Colin Says:

Are there any Chinese folk out there who can state with certainty which is her family name and which her given name? I suspect the correct Western version is Nah Li.

contador Says:

yeah, i was wide awake for the wta semi’s. na li, li na was in choke mode too long in that match…didn’t play like the same person who played …..whoever she played…forgot already. oh yeah petko, the bod.

just glad she beat woz’s skirt.

now go beat kim, no choking, you can do it!

jane Says:

contador “just glad she beat woz’s skirt.” lol. Totally. Thanks for nice cheers for Novak. I can’t watch any of these matches, which is frustrating but will tape replay and watch later.

Ming Says:

Li is her family name, Na is her given name

Lulu Iberica Says:

Colin, I’m not Chinese, but one of the commentators last night said her surname is Li, so Western version would be Na Li. Is there a consensus about which form to use when referring to Chinese people in Western media?

thark Says:

@colin – li is the family name.

adx Says:

I can’t speak to convention, but in Chinese you say the family name first and then the given name, so you would call her Li Na. She’s also stated publicly that she would prefer people call her Li Na, which makes sense – it would be weird if you were used to being called say Roger Federer for your whole life and people started calling you Federer Roger.

grendel Says:

Lulu – family name (surname) first, given name second, so it’s Li Na. If you say western version is Na Li, that’s like saying, I suppose, that Chinese version of Nadal is Nadal Rafael, which sounds a bit silly.

Gregoire Gentil Says:

Very sad match for Wozniacki. We are already very few on this forum to support women tennis, but if you read most of the comments for the past three months, I think that I’m the only one to be a fan of Wozniacki here!

The Wozniacki bashing will only keep increasing in the coming weeks. She is young, smart, blonde, and smiling all the time. It’s like she is checking everything to be the perfect target of the misogynist bashers. The slamless factor just adds the so-called “tennis expert” journalists to the bashing crowd. It should be horrible for her to step into the conference press and know what will be the first question again and again. Perhaps it will be a good thing if Clijsters is #1 seed at Roland Garros and Wozniacki #2. Clijsters will then get all the pressure about “will she make her first French Open?”.

On the tennis front, she was indeed very “fragile”. Let’s hope that this defeat really convinces her that she needs to have one or two of those powershots. A Federer at 5-3 30-15 just does an ace / winner foreground, and match is over, while Caroline is still waiting for an error of her opponent. She is in the same situation as Murray a year ago who was missing some powershots but has worked hard to fix the problem – let’s see what happens for him during the week-end. The issue for Caroline might be the team and family. When you are twenty, single, and your dad is your coach, it’s probably hard to listen to somebody outside who would push for a different strategy.

Anyway, Go Caroline!!!

PS: Congrats to Li. But I don’t see how Clijsters won’t eat her on Saturday. She was in demonstration mode against a good Zvonareva who couldn’t do anything. And she was 5-0 in Sydney against Li on first set. Plus the first slam effect for Li: no way she can make it…

grendel Says:

G.G. – Speaking as one of those who have bashed Wozniacki on this site, I think your indignant post is fully justified. It’s not Woz’s fault that she is#1 or that she doesn’t quite have the game for winning a slam. All she can do is her best, and this she clearly does. She’s really a victim – as Safina was before her – of the whole grading system. It’s not satisfactory, not that I pretend to know the answer.

Incidentally, Woz definitely has big shots in her armoury – very occasionally she lets go, and from what I have seen is usually then successful. She just needs to be persuaded to trust more to her innate ability to generate power.

Colin Says:

Thanks for the confirmation, folks. I think it is reasonable for Westerners AMONG THEMSELVES to use their own convention, because then everyone knows which is the family name and which the given.
By the way, it’s not only Orientals who put the family name first; Hungarians do it too. If you look up the composer Bela Bartok on a Hungarian website, you’ll see Bartok Bela.

Gregoire Gentil Says:

grendel: yes, her backhand is pretty good. A few times, she even turned around her forehand against Li to let her backhand go. And it had pretty good results.

As a fan of her, I really hope that she *will* continue to level up her game. In the post-match interview, she said that she wanted to go immediately to the practice court. For sure, she has the will!

Go Caroline!!!

Gregoire Gentil Says:

An my second preferred player Victoria Azarenka just lost the women double final. They had the match in their hand in the second set. I can’t believe it… :-((((

contador Says:

sorry gregoire gentil. i don’t bash woz. i mean i didn’t like her skirt this time….the stella mccartney design. but i can see why she’s so popular…definitely not a misogynist here. i love sharapova and she’s a beautiful blond and a fighter, a slam winner. i don;t know what’s happened to her game. i love henin because of her one handed backhand, something i try to imitate. i loved amelie maurismo and i like kim clijsters of course. but i am cheering on li na, the underdog next to kim. i have watched wta in the past but it got eclipsed by my love for federer tennis and the fedal thing.

but coming back to balance and watching more women’s tennis.

i’m simply not in awe of wozniaki’s tennis as i have been by serena and venus williams.

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