Li Na gives best winner's speech ever

Eurosport | Tramlines, Yahoo!7 January 26, 2014, 8:53 am

"Best speech ever" was the universal verdict to Li Na's unscripted thanks at the trophy ceremony after she erased two near-misses at Melbourne Park with a joyous victory in her third Australian Open final.

Runner-up in 2011 and 2013, the 31-year-old overwhelmed Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(3) 6-0 to win her second grand slam title and then left a packed Rod Laver Arena in stitches as she paid tribute to her team.

After warming up by paying respects to her opponent, Li thanked her high-profile agent Max Eisenbud for "making me rich" before singling out her husband and former coach Jiang Shan, long the butt of his wife's jokes, for special praise.

"Now, of course, my husband ... famous in China. Thanks for him for giving up everything, just travelling with me to be my hitting partner, fix the drinks and fix the racquets, so, he did a lot of jobs," she grinned as Jiang was ribbed in the players' box.

"So, thanks a lot, you're a nice guy.

"And ... also you are so lucky, you found me."

The speech capped an emotional night for Li, who was so nervous before her match that she decided to take a late afternoon nap to avoid looking at the television or thinking too much about her third appearance in the final.

A flighty temperament has long been her cross to bear and nerves intervened decisively during her first Melbourne final against Kim Clijsters when she took a set lead only to be overhauled by the Belgian and bowed out by taking out her frustrations on noisy Chinese spectators.

It was two unlucky tumbles against Victoria Azarenka that contributed to her loss last year. She first rolled her ankle and then blacked out momentarily after she hit her head on the blue hardcourt.

Despite the disappointments, Li has long regarded Melbourne Park as her special place, speaking of the venue as having an almost mystical air that gets her competitive juices flowing and raises her game.

She felt lucky to survive her third-round match against Czech Lucie Safarova who blazed a winner down the line on match-point, only for the 'Hawk-eye' technology to show it was a couple of inches long.

"Now, I believe this is lucky. At the time, I really didn't think about it as lucky," she told reporters, joking that she would send the Czech an email.

"After I saved the match point I still had to stand another one-and-a-half hours on the court, I still had the chance to lose the match.

Asked whether it was her destiny to win, Li said: "Maybe, because last year I was falling down. That was unlucky, so they gave it back to me for this year."

For a period of time on Saturday, it seemed it was Li's fate to lose a third final, as she handed back two breaks of serve and struggled with an errant forehand.

Taken into a tiebreak, Li cracked a string of huge winners to close out the first set, and with the spell broken, roared to victory with six straight games.

Asia's first grand slam singles winner when she won the French Open in 2011, Li's success and the expectations of 1.3 billion in her homeland have sometimes rested heavily on her shoulders.

A below-par year racked with self-doubt plagued her after she won at Roland Garros and she nearly quit the tour last year when under fire from Chinese media in the wake of an early exit from the same tournament.

She stopped short of saying her second grand slam title would banish the dark days for good, only to pledge that she intended to enjoy her win to the fullest.

She planned to celebrate the Chinese New Year back in her home-town of Wuhan on the Yangtze river with her mother, who remains too nervous to watch her matches and had not yet sent her any congratulations.

"At this moment, I think my tennis is going up," Li said. "In tennis everything can happen. Right now for me, the most important thing is to enjoy it for a couple of days, have a very good Chinese New Year.

"I'm happy to take the trophy back for Chinese New Year. I'll show it to (my mum) for one second and then put it into my house."

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  1. wendy10:02pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    she is humorous and humble. A great player. A beauty in my eyes with her determination. She will be looking as fit and good like this for next 30 yrs....asian...:)

  2. Amanda Ene09:42pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    I love this lady, To all you haters you all can go win a grand slam, how about that? The speech was a very honest,sincere and humble speech, She has also got a good humour. Though her English is not so good, she was confident to speak, that alone is very nice, If it was others they will just say Thank you, bcos they can't speak English. She is an inspiration! The speech was not in any way reflecting pride, but at the end of the day its how you guys want to read what she said. I understand the speech in this way.

    1 Reply
  3. LOL08:20pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Li Na, I have already said congratulations. Your speech was so inspirational I hope other girls take up the game, as Michael Chang is a champion of Chinese boys. Tonight I am hoping Stanislas Wawrinka wins. Raffa is a briliant player and doesn't need to use 'gamemanship' to win. To me that is as low as it gets and I've been around tennis long enough to see how it can affect players. In this case I won't say I hope the best man wins. Go Stan, do it for Switzerland.

    6 Replies
  4. 0 10
    LONGSHOT06:30pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Sheesh.... she's sure been taking her ugly pills..... looks like her neck just vomited!

    10 Replies
  5. 0 10
    farrid06:30pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    I think she is an arrogant woman who stood in front of the hundreds people and said such a nonsense sentences about her husband. You, Lin, have to be grateful about your family who stood behind you to make you famous and never said to others you are lucky because of me. Morality should be practiced besides your tennis expertise Lin Na.

    4 Replies
  6. SIR AMENHOTEP III04:50pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    PS. Do not, and I repeat do not what ever you do enlarge the photo as it is , well lets just say I am no longer hungry.

    3 Replies
  7. SIR AMENHOTEP III04:48pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Is that her or her husbands photo?

  8. manjula04:39pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Congrats! Li Na for the win . Also liked your your cheerful speech.

  9. Emearg erooM04:01pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    I have seen her flashing her knickers...thats all I need to see. Dont care for her speeches.

  10. Ipeealot03:57pm Sunday 26th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    This young lady said the Chinese audience made too much noise in past years, well imagine playing against Assascreamer or Shreikopova on the same court

    1 Reply