Alexa

Australian Open Notebook

 Spain's David Ferrer hits a return to compatriot Rafael Nadal during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourn...
 China's Li Na celebrates a point win over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki during their women's semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in ...
 China's Li Na smiles during an on court interview following her win over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in their women's semifinal at the Australian Op...

Australian Open Tennis

Spain's David Ferrer hits a return to compatriot Rafael Nadal during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourn...

Australian Open Tennis

China's Li Na celebrates a point win over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki during their women's semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in ...

Australian Open Tennis

China's Li Na smiles during an on court interview following her win over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in their women's semifinal at the Australian Op...

After making history, Li Na turned on her cell phone and found 44 text messages.
Friends, family, fellow players, sports officials and the media were cheering her accomplishment at the Australian Open as a big step for the 28-year-old's career and potentially a giant leap for China.
When Li walks onto Rod Laver Arena on Saturday for the championship match it will be the first time a Chinese player will play in a Grand Slam singles final. A victory by Li could give a major boost to tennis in China, where the sport has long struggled for recognition alongside badminton and table tennis.
Li will have to overcome three-time U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters, Belgium's 27-year-old mother of one who is playing with extra motivation this year because it may be her last Australian Open.
Li said she was amused by the avalanche of messages on her phone, and that she was not fully aware of the reaction back home _ she never reads news about herself because it might make her "angry or sad."
There's not much negative news right now.
"Li Na makes history entering the Australian Open final" cheered the front page of the Beijing News. Inside, the widely read tabloid ran almost two pages of coverage on Li's semifinal upset over No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.
Chinese tennis federation head Sun Jinfang was widely quoted as comparing Li to Houston Rockets center Yao Ming and Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang.
One of the text messages Li received came from China's tennis federation boss.
"She said, 'Well done. (when) you come back, I pay (for) dinner.'" _ to which Li replied: "What? Only dinner?"
Another message came from her mother, who doesn't watch Li's matches because it makes her too nervous. But someone conveyed the good news. "She sent me a text message. She said, 'Well done. I waiting for you in the home.' Yeah, that's it," Li said, laughing.
"My best friend just called me. She was crying on the phone," Li said, pretending to cry and hyperventilate at the same time. "I was like, 'OK, take it easy. What do you want to say? Just calm down.'"
The WTA is banking on Li's success to help spur the growth of tennis in China.
"Li Na's breakthrough performance will propel the popularity of women's tennis forward exponentially in the China market," WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
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DOUBLES DECIDED: Top-seeded Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta rallied from a set and 4-1 down to beat Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the Australian Open women's doubles to win their first major as a team.
"We were like in shock," Dulko said after their title win on Friday. "In the changeover, we were like looking each other and saying, 'C'mon, we play less than an hour. We cannot finish the match playing less than an hour in the final.'
"We just tried to go for it, didn't try to wait for them, tried to play more aggressive. Because I think until this moment we couldn't find a good way to play, to win the match. So we just keep fighting and trying."
Dulko and Pennetta, who hold the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings among doubles players, were already up a break at 3-1 when they broke again when Kirilenko netted a backhand.
They held in their next service game, then broke Azaranka and Kirilenko again to close out the match.
This was a first Grand Slam title for the Dulko-Pennetta combination, who made it to the quarterfinals at all the Grand Slams last year and the Wimbledon semifinals.
Dulko and Pennetta won seven doubles titles last year, including a 17-match winning streak.
"Last year was a great year, this year we are starting really good," Pennetta said.
Azarenka and Kirilenko were playing their first Grand Slam tournament together. Azarenka, of Belarus, formerly was a two-time Grand Slam finalist, including last year at Melbourne Park with Shahar Peer.
Kirilenko's best previous doubles result was a semifinal at last year's Australian Open with Agnieszka Radwanksa.
In mixed doubles Friday, Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan and Paul Hanley of Australia advanced to Sunday's mixed doubles final with a 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 (match tiebreak) win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Horia Tecau of Romania.
Chan and Hanley will play Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia and Daniel Nestor of Canada, who beat Kirilenko and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 6-4, 7-5 in the other semi Friday.
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MISSED OPPORTUNITY: David Ferrer was in a strong position to win a hardcourt match over Andy Murray for the first time, in the most important of places _ the Australian Open semifinals. After winning the first set 6-4, Ferrer had a set point, but saw it evaporate into a tiebreaker that he lost badly.
"The first set and second set saw a lot of rallies," he said. "I had my chance in the set point in the second set, but in the important moments he served really well."
Murray will get another chance to end a near 75-year winless streak for British men in Grand Slam singles tournaments after beating Ferrer 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1, 7-6 (2).
"In the tiebreak, maybe he started better than me. I play little bit short sometimes in the start, and really the key was the serve," Ferrer added.
Murray agreed.
"I served well in both of them," Murray said of the tiebreakers. "I got off to a good start, and that always makes a difference."
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NEW TV CONTRACT: Eurosport, which provides telecasts to 56 countries and 121 million homes across Europe, has extended its broadcasting agreement with the Australian Open by five years beginning in 2012. The network has been providing Australian Open coverage for the past 15 years.
"This new agreement ensures that viewers in Europe will continue enjoying live extensive coverage of the Australian Open for many years to come," Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said in making the announcement Friday.
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Associated Press writers Rohan Sullivan in Melbourne, Australia, and Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-01-21 11:12 GMT+08:00