So, on that note, this ends the live coverage from Vavel. I have been Jack Haugh (@JackMHaugh) and it was my absolute pleasure to take you through a thorougly entertaining final. I do hope you tune into our coverage of tomorrow's men's final; can Stan do it? You will need to tune back here to find out!
The final may have died down in the second set, but it wil be remembered for different reasons. It was the day Li underlined her improvement and the day the world fell in love with her personality.
So, the 2014 Aussie Open ends with Li underlying just why she is so popular. She may have had an easy run, but she is a worthy champion. Hiring Carlos Rodriguez has proven to be a masterstroke.
Li Na is hilarious!! Great speech! #stilllaughing #AusOpen— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) January 25, 2014
Li cannot but express her emotion at the end.
The plaudits continue to pour in for Li, who is a worthy, and popular champion.
Best speech like ever? Li Na. #ledge @AustralianOpen— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) January 25, 2014
First person Li thanks is agent Max Eisenbud 'thanks for making me rich'— Neil Harman (@NeilHarmanTimes) January 25, 2014
#Cibulkova "#ausopen is my favourite Grand Slam."— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2014
Cibulkova is applauded for her efforts by Hughes. Quite rightly so; has beaten two top five players this week.
Li cannot hide her delight as she reaches her box.
Li Na will rise to No3 in the WTA rankings, and will be only 11 mere points behind No2 Victoria Azarenka. Cibulkova up to No13. #AusOpen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 25, 2014
The lights are drowned, as the presentation begins. The crowd rise to their feet in admiration for the two players. The trophy will be presented by Chris Evert, who was a terrific player in her day.
Having beaten Sharapova and Radwanska, the little Slovak has proven to be the surprise of the tournament.
Cibulkova, meanwhile, still looks absolutely enthralled by her Aussie Open. A sumptous two weeks would have been in fantasy land had she won, but it wasn't to be. She did herself justice in the first set, but no one could have stopped Li in the second.
The Asian/Pacific Grand Slam has its champion, and Li attempts to climb up to the box to celebrate with her team, but on second thought, realises that it is a bit high. Dennis and Carlos blow her kisses and look on in delight.
So much credit must go to Carlos Rodriguez for giving Li Na's tennis career such precise direction.— Barry Flatman (@Barry_FlatmanST) January 25, 2014
Has Li ever played a better second set than that? Everything she hit was golden. Winner, upon winner, upon winner. Cibulkova put up a great fight in the first, but was blown away by Li in the end.
GAME, SET AND MATCH, LI ! 7-6 6-0
0-6 (LI) - Can Cibulkova win a game in this set? She has played too well to not. But, Li has played godlike in this set and simply cannot miss. A few winners set up 0-30, and teh crowd begin to sense the rise of a new champion. A wry smile from Cibulkova greets a net cord going her way, which came at an ideal time. But, the cord has its revenge, as Li's backhand clips it and the Slovak fires the ball long when she fails to adjust. TWO CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS! The first is saved when Li hits the ball long but on the second, Cibulkova fails to adjust her feet and her ball drops long. LI NA IS THE 2014 CHAMPION!
Li Na is now piling on the pressure. First serve more consistent, hardly any unforced errors anymore. Championship tennis
— Barry Flatman (@Barry_FlatmanST) January 25, 2014
0-5 (Li)- The fight in Cibulkova is awe inspiring, as she plugs away and finds herself at 0-30 when Li plants two balls into the net. All the Slovak needs is a glimmer of hope and she is more than capable of fighting her way back into this. But, Li won't let her as she brings the game level with a deep forehand which isn't returned, before some great serving brings game point. Another terrific rally ensues, before Li fires another volley home. She looks unstoppable and her ever increasing aggression at the net sums thsi up.
0-4 (Li Break) - A long forehand, which Cibulkova had to challenge, seems to set the game in good stead for the Slovak. but, at 30-15, Li fires an unstoppable winner into the corner for 30 all, before yet another winner from an miraculous angle hands her break point. She really has upped the ante in the last fifteen minutes, and a godly return back at Cibulkova can only be hit into the crowd and Li stretches her lead some more. Cibulkova will fight to the end, but it looks a matter of when rather than if for Li.
0-3 (Li) - We have been here before, but in this set, Li seems to have found her composure, while Cibulkova begins to force the issue. A net cord at 15-0 is dealt with beautifully by Li, as her backhand can only be patted back by Cibulkova for an easy volley winner. A second ace hands game point, which Cibulkova fends off with a powerful passing winner. A flying winner down the line hands Cibulkova another half chance at 40-30, but brilliant hitting by Li Na opens the court before Li hits a backhand winner. At 0-3, the match will be over if Cibulkova cannot hold.
0-2 (Li Break)- Continuing to play poorly off of the second serve, a couple of points see her race into a 30-0 lead. The double faults continue to come thick and fast, and off of a second serve at 30-15, Li smells blood and goes in for the kill. 30 all and Cibulkova looks in real danger when another second serve is fired back by the Li forehand for break point. And she breaks after a forehand is hit long by Cibulkova; who seems furious with herself.
0-1 (Li) - Instant pressure from Cibulkova on the Li serve as she reaces into a 0-30 lead with some great hitting. The fiery Slovak is not out of this yet. But, Li manages to claw her way to 30 all, before a shot down the line presents her with an easy volley, which she puts away with some aplomb for game point. A long forehand from Cibulkova gifts the game. A mightily important hold from Li but she will know this is a fight to the finis.
Li leads by 1 set to 0.
3-7 - Set to Li! A Cibulkova backhand hits the net and after claws her way through the first set. After the first couple of games, the match sprung into life and is a real treat for for the Rod Laver Arena.
3-6 - Set point!
3-5 - Li is really firing in her backhand now and looks to be in control when Cibulkova drops a ball short. Li comes into volley and attempts the drop but it isn't good enough as Cibulkova sprints to fire a passing winner.
2-5 - A lengthy rally on the Li serve ends when Li stops to challenge an auspicious ball; which somehow clips the the line!
1-5 - Li is in control at the change of ends.
1-4 - Some great defence from Cibulkova as she fights to stay on the point. A short ball is thundered home by Li and suddenly she has the break again. Another second serve is fired back and when the Slovak is caught off guard, she hits the ball wide to drop another break.
1-2 - A framed ball presents Cibulkova with an opportunity to break back, which she takes with some aplomb.
0-2 - Li races into a two love lead, after winning the mini break on Cobulkova's second serve, a backhand winner follows.
(Cibulkova Break ) 6-6 - As she looks to close out the set, a drive volley from Li almost gifts the point, but she somewow fires Cibulkova's return for a clean winner. A wide forehand from Li down the line brings 15 all before some deep shots by Cibulkova into the corner brings another forehand error from Li. But, she claws the game back to 30-30 with a great serve and deep winner into the corner, off of her backhand. Stil a half chance for Cibulkova, though, and as she plays a drop shot, Li races up and plays a decent shot into the corner which draws a poor return from Cibulkova. But, somehow, Li can only plant the ball into the bottom of the net - she seemed to get her footwork all wrong. There is definitely plenty of fight in this game, and a mishit backhand from Li turns into a great shot as she sneaks onto deuce. But, she fails top convert as she fires ball wide off of her backhand when the line was open. Cibulkova seems determined to make the most of this chance, as she fires the ball back at Li before hitting a short ball on therise for break point. When Cibulkova hits a poor return. it looks like Li will get the point, but, an awful slice from Li hits the net and we will have a tie break!
5-6 - The pressure seemed to tell on the Slovak the longer the rallies, with Li finding some intimate angles and firing with some truly great depth.
5-6 (Li Break!) - A glorious rally is played out on the first point, with both players grabbing the momentum, but Cibulkova fends off the pressure to fire in a winner on the 24th stroke. A sumptous return from Li is a clean winner down the line, Dennis seems pleased, and there is suddenly pressure on the Slovak who fires in another double. HAving onljy won 4/15 points on her second serve, it is crucial that she finds her first. A relentless rally ensues with Li putting all the pressure on the Cibulkova and eventually she can do no more as Li opens the court to fire in a backhand winner. Another second serve is fired at the feet of Cibulkova, who cannot get down quick enough, aas she fires into the net and Li will now serve for the set.
5-5 (Li) - Li needs to hold and her serving percentage has steadily increased throughout, but Cibulkova is still getting a look in on every second serve. At 40-15, a poor second serve is fired back at the feet of Li, who can only plod the ball long, but a timely ace, when it mattered most, hands the game to Li.
5-4 - Cibulkova is beginning to greet every point with one of these now.
(Cibulkova) 5-4 - The crowd are still somewhat mutted but the players are loud and clear for all to hear. At 30-15, the players treat us to another great rally with both triing their utmost to find a winner. Cibulkova continues to attack the Li forehand but she responds with an outright winner into the far corner. But, at game point, the Slovak attempts a tidy drop shot, only for Li to show some tremendous speed to reach it and delicately nod it home. Another scream of 'Come on' from Cibulkova greets game point, but her fifth double fault brings out some unintelligible mumbling. An amazning return from Li sees Cibulkova drop a ball short, which the Chinese woman pounces on. The two players are really battling now and the Slovak continues to fend off break points - she has saved 60% in the tournament - and recieves some reprise as the net cord balnaces itself out to hand game point. A forehand long from Li seals it. As we approach the business end of the set, every inch counts, and the fist bump from Cibulkova on winning the game underlines this. Li will serve to stay in the set.
4 -4 (Li) - Li slows down the game and wins the first two points by hitting some neat angles but not overdoing it. Despite a point for Cibulkova - another long forehand - some tidy footwork for Li allows her to fire a winner for game point. Some strong hitting ensues with Cibulkova having to fight for every ball as Li moves her about the court. A short ball is put away by Li's backhand cross court and we find ourselves level after 40 minutes.
4-3 - Horrendous statistics from Li, could find herself blown away if she isn't careful.
Applying constant pressure, Cibulkova breaks back on eventual double fault by Li Na. Li serving only 12(?!?!) percent first serves. #AusOpen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 25, 2014
(Cibulkova) 4-3 - A long rally at 15-0 sees Li finding some great angles and looks to have hit a sure winner which Cibulkova somehow fires back for an unreturnable winner. As Li begins to play within herself, Cibulkova is starting to show the kind of form she displayed to beat Sharapova and co. A fourth double suggests a slight wobble but a netted return hands the game, and the momentum to Cibulkova.
(Cibulkova Break) 3-3 - A long opening rally ensues with Li hitting the ball deeper and deeper and moving Cibulkova from side to side. But, some dogged defending from the Slovak brings a short ball which she fires towards teh Li backhand and then movges into rocket the winner from the net. After a nervy start, both players appear to be finding their depth and some no nonsense hitting breaks out. A long forehand hands Cibulkova a half chance, and Li responds by looking towards her coach, and a double fault hands Cibulkova her first break points. She only needs the one as Li double faults. The match has definitely sprung into life with both players finding their game. Properly good final so far!
2-3 - She is beginning to play her way into the match and so long as she can hold serve, she is sure to have some chances on the Li serve.
(Cibulkova) 2-3 - A couple of long forehands by Li hands 30-0 to her opponent. Both players are now at 10 errors apiece. A good second serve is too hot ot handle for Li who fires it long before a slight shake with a double fault and a wide backhand bring it back to 40-30, but yet again Li fires long and Cibulkova sneaks through.
A little shout of encouragement to herself from Cibulkova who holds from break point down. Think the match needed that— Neil Harman (@NeilHarmanTimes) January 25, 2014
1-3 (Li) - Cibulkova has a half chance at 0-15, before Li exerts her strength and claws back the game. Got the luck of a net cord at 15-30.
That is definitely an important hold from the little Slovak, and one which will hopefully relax her. Her fiance Miso Navara looks on in delight.
(Cibulkova) 1-2 - Too many balls are dropping just beyond the tramlines for Cibulkova, and a poor second serve allows Li to fire a forehand return winner for 15-30. But, after dropping a ball right into the hitting zone of Li, the Chinese woman over does it and gifts the point to her opponent. Suddenly, she finds herself break point down and struggles to return Li's backhand return. She somehow wills teh ball over the net but Li is presented with an easy ball. Yet, Li merely pushes the ball baack and finding herself stranded at the net, can only pat the ball back before Cibulkova fires a passing shot down the line for deuce. After blowing game point, the the Slovak finds herself under presure from the evr imporving Li backhand. But, her forehand is still missing, as she shanks another wide. But, two netted returns hand the game to Cibulkova who replies with a loud yelp and bounces to the chair.
0-2 Li - Looking to consolidate the break, another long forehand by Li brings 15 all. She is really struggling to find her depth, and some poor footwork from the favourite sees her fire a backahnd into the bottom of the net for 15-30. Cibulkova blows her chance by getting her angles wrong on a backhand return before another backhand winner by Li down the line brings game point. Cibulkova fires a body serve return wide and drops the game.
0-1 Li (Break) - Cibulkova choose to serve first and was quickly on danger at 0-30 with two forehands flying long, to cheers from the crowd. She pulls it back after a Li drop shot is returned deep and her subsequent lob drops out. A surprisng miss from Li brings 30 all before another overhit forehand by Li offers game point. Cibulkova looks to get a reasuring game on the board but she can only pat a deep return into the net and we are at deuce. A double fault hands break point but after a few angled forehands, Li overhits another backhand out. A long rally ensues before Li finally hits a beautiful backhand down the line to hit the first winner of the game. Facing another break point, the Slovak hits another double and loses her first service game. Not the start Cibulkova would have wanted but both players are full of nerves.
8.40 - And We are off!
8.38 - Brad Gilbert has had his say.
I am going with safe call LI NA NA LI 12-7 - Pocket Rocket Cibulkova— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) January 25, 2014
8.36 - So, who do we have to win? I don't want to put my neck out there, but I think Li in three.
8.35 - A fun fact about Li Na's husband Jiang Shan. His western name is Dennis becuase it ryhmes with tennis.
8.35 - The players are warming up so we will be starting shortly.
8.33 - They definitely love Li down under. After reaching the final in 2011, which was watched by 330 m in China alone, her popularity has gone from strength to strength. Named Forbes' 58th richest athlete, her sponsorship deals with Rolex, Mercedes and Samsung - to name a few - have turned the little girl form Wuhan into a superstar.
8.32 - Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has been tweeting.
8.31 - Cibulkova smiles as he collects her wonderful flowers and the corwd welcome her with opena rms. But, Li would appear to recieve the bigger cheer as she storms out onto the court.
8.30 - And here come the players!
8.29 - The trophy is out! The wonderful looking Chris Evert has delivered the trophy under the golden lights of the Rod Laver Arena, to a rapture of applause as the atmosphere begins to grow.
8.28 - But, she has managed to fend off an impressive 61% of break points; and most of them were against Radwanska!
8.26 - Secondly, Li's serve, if on form, could potentially dominate the little Slovak. HAving only converteed 40% of break points, Cibulkova will have to take any chances she can get on the Li serve.
8.25 - Where will the match be won? Firstly, Li's exeperience is sure to tell. She has been there and done that, while Cibulkova is in uncharted waters. WHile this may not be the deciding factor, it can definitely make a difference. We all saw the affect this had on Sabine Lisikci in the 2013 Wimbledon final.
8.22 - It is sure to be an interesting match up. With 8 titles to her name, Li comes in with a vastly better CV than Cibulkova's three - her most recent at the 13 Stanford Open, where she beat Radwanska.
8.21 - I should have said, I am Jack Haugh ( @JackMHaugh ) and I will be taking you through the final. Please feel costless to get involved!
8.16 - China's most succesful player of all time - she became the first Asian woman to reach a Grand Slam final in 2011 - leads the head to head over Cibulkova 4-0. They first met in 2008 in Antwerp, where Li won in straight sets, and most recently met at the 2013 Rodgers Cup, where Li won again. Here is Li in training before the final.
Li after her French Open triumph.
8.14 - Winning her last 11 matches, and serving at a steady 65%, Li will take some beating.
8.11 - And her opponent, Li, heads into the final in imperilous form. Having reached the finals of the WTA Championships, where she rose to a career high of 3, she then marched to retain her Shenzhen Open crown - d. Peng Shuai - and has stormed through to the final, beating Lucie Safarova, where she faced match point, and Eugenie Bouchard in the semi finals.
8.09 - At 5 " 3 she stands at one of the smallest players on the tour, with only the former South African Pro Amanda Coetzer, 5 " 2, having to look up to the 'pocket rocket.'
8.07 - And her 2014 hadn't started in the best of fashions, with early defeats at both Brisbane and Sydney - where she lost in the first round to Angelique Kerber. This evoked the end to her 2013, with early defeats in the US Open - Elina Svitolina, Beijing - Keys, and Moscow - to Dolonc.
8.05 - The little Slovakian wasn't given much of a chance heading in. Having lost in the second round last year to qualifier VAleria Savinylch 67 46, she hasn't surpassed the third round of a GS since the 2012 French Open - where she lost to Sam Stosur in the quarter finals.
8.02 - Cibulkova, meanwhile, has reached her maiden Grand Slam final and fully deserves to be there. The 24 year old, whose previously best Grand Slam result was the French Open Semi Final in 2011, has had to beat Francesca Schiavone, Stefanie Vogele, Carlos Suarez Navarro, Maria Sharapova, SImona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska, to the loss of just one set, to make it.
8.01 - You can see the effects of this here.
7.57 - China's Li Na looks to make it third time lucky down under, after losing in the 2011 final to Kim Clijsters 36 63 63 and in 2013 to Victoria Azarenka 46 64 63; however, last year's final was controversial, with Li falling and injuring herself early on berfore hurting her ankle later on in the match.
7.55 - So, after two weeks of gruelling competition, with the players battling the heat, exhaustion and one another, we find ourselves in the interesting position of two surprise finalists.
7.55 - Good morning and welcome to Vavel's official coverage of the Women's Australian Open final for 2014.