When watching the interesting battle between Victoria Azarenka and Li Na in the Australian Open final, it was very difficult to decide who was going to win. The match swung back and forth throughout, but I did think Li was the slightly better player.
The reason it was so difficult to predict the winner was because neither player performed particularly well. The unforced-error count was high, the serving was letting both players down and it was generally a poor match.
However, one of the greatest sporting cliches is that the sign of a champion is the ability to win tournaments when she plays badly, and Azarenka proved she has the courage and determination needed to be one of the great female tennis players.
To defend a Grand Slam title is never easy, but Azarenka managed it in the face of stiff competition. She has been world No. 1 for a good period of time now, and although many would say Serena Williams is the best player in the world, Azarenka has shown that she deserves her position at the top of the rankings.
Add to her Grand Slam victories her success in the 2012 Olympics and her other Grand Slam final appearances, and you have a player capable of producing her own section of tennis history.
With Serena Williams now in the final years of her career, it will be interesting to see which players step up and take her place. It might be the case that the Grand Slams will be shared among a number of players, such as Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Li.
However, if there is going to be one player who steps up and establishes herself above the rest, the smart money is on Azarenka. With time very much on her side, a player of her ability should be aiming to reach double figures in Grand Slam titles.
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