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Old Jan 27th, 2013, 10:07 PM   #1392
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Re: Li Na Cheering Thread Vol. 4

LI Na had a simple explanation for the falls that so dramatically punctuated the Australian Open women's final.

"Because I'm stupid," the 30-year-old said after allowing Victoria Azarenka to claw her way back in the final after losing the first set.

Li claims never to have fallen during her 14-year WTA career.

"I was feeling like, 'How many years I didn't fall down on the court?' I was like 'What are you doing on the court?'. It was like juniors."

Li's self-effacing humour is one of the main reasons the Chinese star and her answers in not quite perfect English have endeared her so strongly to Australian crowds.

Chinese flags were out in force on Australia Day.

"I can hear a lot of Chinese fans, and also I can see them with the China national flag everywhere. I was, 'Oh, looks like China Open'."

Saturday night's defeat was the second time Li has taken the first set in an Australian Open final, only to falter. Two years ago against Kim Clijsters she did the same thing.

However in 2011 the crowd was overwhelmingly on the side of the popular Belgian who had come to be known as "Aussie Kim".

On Saturday night, it was defending champion Azarenka who had the crowd against her.

They clapped her every mistake and even cheered on her four double-faults, such was the bitter aftertaste left by the Belarusian's antics in the semi-final.

Most were convinced Azarenka's use of a medical time-out at a crucial stage of the match against Sloane Stephens was based on panic, not pain.

"Hey, this is real injury. Everyone can see that," said Li, prompting more laughter in her post-match press conference when she was asked about her two medical time-outs -- the second to treat not only her left ankle again, but concussion after hitting her head on the court as she fell down.

"Before the match, I was making joke for the physio. I say, 'Oh, maybe I call you on the court'. She said 'Don't do that'. When I sprain the ankle, she was coming, I say, 'Look, I call you, right?"'

Jokes aside, Li said her left ankle and bruised head did not stop her from winning. That was despite her blacking out for a couple of seconds.

"Without falling down I was feeling pretty good," she said.

"But is very tough match, you know. She's No 1, defending champion. So, I think today in like important games she was play better than me, so that's why she can win the title."

After the defeat by Clijsters, Li picked herself up to beat defending champion Francesca Schiavone in the French Open final four months later. "I think last year Maria (Sharapova) do the same. She lose the final here (to Azarenka) and she win the French. Also one year (Ana) Ivanovic do the same. So I don't know, maybe I wish I can do the same this year, as well." It's something she and coach Carlos Rodriguez will be aiming for.

Her ranking rises one spot from six to five as she pushes down German Angelique Kerber. Sam Stosur, despite a second round exit, remains at No 9.
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