Azarenka holds on to Australian Open title

18:57, Jan 29 2013
Australian Open 2013
Janko Tipsarevic celebrates his straight sets win over Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.
Australian Open 2013
Ana Ivanovic celebrates a point during her match against Melinda Czink.
Australian Open 2013
A packed house shows up to watch local Lleyton Hewitt's first round match at Rod Laver Arena.
Australian Open 2013
Lleyton Hewitt's returns a point during his loss to Janko Tipsarevic.
Australian Open 2013
David Ferrer lies on court after throwing himself at a point during his first round win over Olivier Rochus.
Australian Open 2013
Fan show their home town support on day one.
Australian Open 2013
Maria Sharapova serves during her first round win.
AustralianOpen
Novak Djokovic on his way to a first round straight sets victory.
Australian Open
Caroline Wozniacki in action during her first round match against Sabine Lisicki.
Australian Open
Andy Murray returns a shot against Robin Haase on day two of the Australian Open.
Serena Williams
Chair umpire Kerrilyn Cramer comes to the aid of Serena Williams after she fell heavily during her match against Romanian Edina Gallovits-Hall.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer during his first round match against Benoit Paire of France.
Australian Open
Bernard Tomic keeps his eye on the ball.
Australian Open
Melbourne Park is lit up for the night session on day two.
Australian Open
Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia does the splits in her first round match against Yanina Wickmayer.
Australian Open
Gael Monfils celebrates a point during his first round match.
Australian Open
Fans scramble for signatures from Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro.
Australian Open
No 1 seed Victoria Azarenka in action on day two.
Australian Open
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland hits a return to Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania.
Australian Open
Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain hits a return to compatriot Nicolas Almagro during their men's singles match at the Australian Open.
Nishikori
Kei Nishikori of Japan plays a backhand in his second round match against Carlos Berlocq of Argentina.
Australian Open
Jerzy Janowicz exploded in rage after losing a 79-minute set to India’s Somdev Devvarman.
Australian Open
Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic plays a backhand in his second round match against Guillaume Rufin of France.
Sam Stosur
Sam Stosur exits Rod Laver Arena after her second round defeat to China's Zheng Jie
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova waits for a serve from Japan's Misaki Doi during her second round roll-over.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic lost just six games as he cruised to a straight sets victory over American Ryan Harrison.
Australian Open
Heather Watson of Great Britain celebrates with fans after her second round singles win.
Australian Open
Bob and Mike Bryan perform their trademark chest bump after winning their opening doubles match.
Australian Open
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand in her second round match against Eleni Daniilidou of Greece.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays a backhand in his second round match against Go Soeda of Japan.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams of the United States of America plays a backhand in her second round match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray plays a forehand in his second round match against Joao Sousa of Portugal during day four of the 2013 Australian Open
Bernard Tomic
Bernard Tomic recovered from losing a first set tie-breaker to defeat German qualifier Daniel Brands in four sets.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer picked up early breaks in each set to defeat Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets in Melbourne.
Roger Federer
The pink and black shoes of Roger Federer.
Australian Open
Stefan 'Redfoo' Gordy of the American electro duo LMFAO attends the MLC Hotshots session at the Australian Open.
Australian Open
Angelique Kerber of Germany hits a return to Madison Keys of the US.
Australian Open
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland plays a forehand in her third round match against Heather Watson of Great Britain.
Australian Open
Maria Sharapova celebrates her 6-1, 6-3 victory over Venus Williams.
Australian Open
Tomas Berdych returns a shot during his match against Jurgen Melzer.
Australian Open
Ana Ivanovic pumps her fist after beating fellow Serbian Jelena Jankovic.
Australian Open
Novak Djokovic is at full strength during his win over Radek Stepanek.
Australian Open
Jamie Hampton celebrates winning the second set during her women's singles match against Victoria Azarenka.
Australian Open
Victoria Azarenka hits a return to Jamie Hampton.
Michael Chardy
Frenchman, world number 36, Michael Chardy lines up the ball in his Australia Open third round victory over sixth-seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray exclaims his satisfaction at beating Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in the third round of the Australian Open.
Australian Open
Gael Monfils is doubled over with exhaustion during his epic third round match against Gilles Simon.
Australian Open
Bernard Tomic and Roger Federer share a pat on the back after their third round match.
Australian Open
Serena and Venus Williams whisper tactics during their second round doubles match.
Australian Open
Caroline Wozniacki returns a shot during her third round win.
Australian Open
David Ferrer of Spain serves to Kei Nishikori of Japan during their men's singles match at the Australian Open.
Australian Open 2013
David Ferrer of of Spain plays a forehand in his fourth round match against Kei Nishikori.
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia hits a return to Angelique Kerber of Germany during their women's singles match at the Australian Open
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia hits a return to Angelique Kerber of Germany during their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
Australian Open 2013
Angelique Kerber of Germany receives medical treatment during her women's singles match against Ekaterina Makarova.
Sharapova
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.
Sharapova
Maria Sharapova (right) of Russia after her fourth round match against Kirsten Flipkens.
Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland celebrates defeating Ana Ivanovic of Serbia during their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic celebrates after his five-hour, two-minute five-set victory over Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round at the Australian Open.
Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic is certain she is in good form despite exiting yet another major before the quarter-finals.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova has lost just five games in her four wins at this year's Australian Open.
Australian Open 2013
ictoria Azarenka of Belarus hits a return to Elena Vesnina of Russia during their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
Australian Open 2013
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (right) kisses Elena Vesnina of Russia after defeating her in their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
Australian Open
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates making it into the quarter finals of the Australian Open.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray of Britain celebrates defeating Gilles Simon of France.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams of the US serves to Maria Kirilenko of Russia.
Australian Open
Roger Federer of Switzerland serves to Milos Raonic of Canada.
Australian Open
Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates winning the second set during his men's singles match against Milos Raonic.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray signs autographs after his fourth round victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Australian Open
Li Na celebrates her win over fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.
Australian Open
Nicolas Almagro of Spain (L) congratulates compatriot David Ferrer after Ferrer won their men's singles quarter-final.
Australian Open
David Ferrer of Spain reacts during his men's singles quarter-final match against compatriot Nicolas Almagro.
Australian Open
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia plays a backhand in her Quarterfinal match against Maria Sharapova.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to compatriot Ekaterina Makarova.
Australian Open
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates defeating Ekaterina Makarova.
Australian Open 2013
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates defeating Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams does the splits during her quarterfinals loss to compatriot Sloane Stephens.
Serena Williams
Sloane Stephens of the US (R) shakes hands with compatriot Serena Williams after defeating her in their women's singles quarter-final match.
Australian Open
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus celebrates winning her Quarterfinal match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Australian Open
Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia looks on after falling in her Quarterfinal match against Victoria Azarenka.
Andy Murray  celebrates his win over Jeremy Chardy.
Andy Murray celebrates his win over Jeremy Chardy.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray during his match against Jeremy Chardy.
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France reacts in his Quarterfinal match against Roger Federer.
Australian Open
Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his Quarterfinal match against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
Li Na
Li Na swept Maria Sharapova aside 6-2 6-2 in the first semifinal at the Australian Open.
Maria Sharapova
It was not Maria Sharapova's day, winning just four games in a straight sets loss to Li Na.
Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand in her Semifinal match against Sloane Stephens of the United States.
Sloane Stephens
Sloane Stephens of the United States of America plays a backhand in her Semifinal match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to David Ferrer of Spain.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer of Spain reacts during his men's singles semi-final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray missed a chance to serve out the match in the fourth set, but finished off Roger Federer in the fifth.
Roger Federer
A dejected Roger Federer during his post-match press conference.
Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka bursts into tears after defeating Li Na for back-to-back Australian Open titles.
Victoria Azarenka
Belarusian Victoria Azarenka kisses the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in the locker room as women's singles champion.
Li Na
China's Li Na grimaces after injuring her left ankle during the Australian Open women's final.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point during his Australian Open final victory over Andy Murray.

Chinese fans are disappointed but still proud after home-grown tennis heroine Li Na lost out once again on the Australian Open crown, saying she continued to be an inspiration for China.

Li, affectionately known as "Big Sister Na" and "Golden Flower" in China, is seen by many Chinese as a role model, with her steely determination, broad smile and English language skills emblematic of a confident and rising country.

China has a history of placing enormous expectations on athletes who have gained international acclaim and each live broadcast is viewed as a barometer of global standing or national pride.

Li Na
LOSS: Li Na, of China.

In 2008, when defending champion Liu Xiang was forced to drop out of the 110 metres hurdles at the Beijing Olympics due to an injury, his withdrawal was met with tears, anger and accusations that the athlete had let down the nation.

"Actually, I'm not as upset as you might think by the fact that she lost this match. I think she has already achieved a lot," said Li Shuang, who watched Li's match at a Beijing sports club with other fans.

"You need to look at how much she has improved, and also how many people she has inspired," he added. "Now a lot of kids are learning to play tennis. It's definitely because of her."

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Azarenka
VICTORY: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after defeating Li Na of China in their women's singles final match at the Australian Open

Victoria Azarenka retained her Australian Open title with a tense 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory over Li, who suffered a sickening ankle injury in the second set and hit her head in the third when she twisted the joint for a second time.

Li had one hand on the Australian trophy in the 2011 final after taking the first set against Belgian Kim Clijsters, but crumbled under the pressure and took out her frustrations on rowdy Chinese spectators in the stands.

Months after her 2011 disappointment, Li captured her sole grand-slam title at the French Open, but had since spent a frustrating period failing to get past the fourth round at the majors until her surprising resurgence at Melbourne Park this week.

Li's progress has been followed closely in China, and the final was once again shown live on state television.

The official news agency Xinhua, which led their main web page with the story, put down her lack of success to a "sprained ankle", and noted that she was the clear crowd favourite.

Nevertheless, fans watching the game back home were reluctant to make excuses for her, saying the game was still a good one to watch.

"She played her game to the best of her ability," said Li Guowei, 48, who has been following the sport for more than 20 years.

"When she fell, things changed for her and she started losing. I think she is a hard person to read, but my guess is that the fall affected her mentally as well as physically." 

Reuters