Posted by Lana On 1/30/2011 09:19:00 AM
Kim Clijsters defeated Li Na 36 63 63 in the final of the Australian Open to win her fourth Grand Slam title.
After a shaky first set, three-time US Open-winner (she won it in 2005, 2009 and 2010) Clijsters fought her way back in a thrilling final in front of 15,000 fans at Rod Laver Arena.
"She did everything better than me in that first set," Clijsters told press. "Her groundstrokes were heavier, deeper. She served better, she returned better. She was playing really, really well - probably the best she's ever played againt me.
"I tried mixing it up, putting some slices in, hitting a few higher shots that drew some errors. I saw her get a little bit aggravated and I just tried to hang in there."
Clijsters praised the crowd in her on-court speech: "I finally feel like you guys can call me Aussie Kim, because I won the title. I've been coming here for many years and you guys have always been amazing. It helps so much."
"I take positives. I think I played great tennis. She played better than me," Li said. "After the match, when I was going back to the locker room, I made a joke that a tennis match should only be one set. I'm still happy what I did today.
"Right now I'll just take total rest, because Chinese New Year is coming soon. I'll take time with the family and prepare for the next tournament."
Li, who became the first player from China to reach a major singles final, which made her an overnight superstar and saw her compared to idolised basketball player Yao Ming and hurdler Liu Xiang, said:
"It doesn't matter if I won or lost today. I played my best tennis."
"It's so exciting I could be the first one," Li said of her breakthrough. "I want another trophy. I want my name there - just one more step. Maybe next time."
"I'd like to congratulate Li Na," Clijsters said. "She's such a tough competitor and she made such a great effort these last few weeks. I'm sure we'll have some tough battles coming up - a few more Grand Slam finals would be nice!"
Li is projected to reach a career-high world number seven in next week's rankings, while Clijsters will rise to second behind Caroline Wozniacki.