So, everyone knows by now the final scores, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, Victoria Azarenka!
Congratulations, "Vika!" Okay, how DID you do it? Victoria found her game in the second set and did not let up, even once. She found a way to get around Li Na, not so easy a feat and played with all her heart. She dug deep and did not let up, even with a few bumps along the way. Translation, mental resolve.
Here is a 6 minute highlight of the match. See if you can pinpoint the difference in the match, when the momentum changed from Li Na to Victoria Azarenka~
And, on top of this, Li Na fell twice in this match. Did the ankle wrap, and then seemed to play all right. Some players wrap the ankles BEFORE the match, but I would think this approach to prevent injury would be uncomfortable. Andre Agassi would do the ankle wrap, and Serena Williams wraps her wrist (I do this too!).
Then, Li rolled her other ankle and blacked out momentarily. Tough to be sure, this stuff happens and she said she was all right. Does it really matter if you fall in a match? Is it actually any indication you will lose if you fall? Probably not in the larger scheme of things, but more often I do see this very act as a huge red flag there will be a loss to the one who falls. It breaks your momentum. And, I do think after the first fall is where the match momentum shifted from Li Na to Victoria Azarenka.
Watch how both players hit. Hitting early cannot be expressed enough in having the advantage. Both players do this in rallies, so the bottom line is the one who can sustain this approach a) consistently, and b) sooner than the other player, will win the point.
Both women show us today how the game is played under duress and interrupted conditions (a fireworks display even, to disrupt for 10 minutes!), and also how to win.
Both are battling for the early point, the early win. Early, early, early.
The earliest point won in the game of tennis is the serve. You win the serve with a great shot, you win the point. You ace the serve, you win an early point!
Both players know this, but here the scores are deceiving and actually do not tell us that in fact during this 2 hour 40 minute match, there were 16 service breaks, with Li Na losing her service game nine times.
That means that the winner Victoria Azarenka lost her service game 7 times, enough to show whoever breaks less is the winner. It is all that other stuff in between that gets pretty creative.
Tennis can be as punishing as it can be victorious.
Or, in this case, the Victoria :)