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Australian Open Notebook

 Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, left, holds the trophy, along with runner-up Australia's Luke Saville in the junior boys' singles final at the Aus...
 Belgium's An-Sophie Mestach holds her trophy aloft after defeating Puerto Rico's Monica Puig in the girl's singles final at the Australian Open tenni...
 Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic holds the trophy after defeating Australia's Luke Saville in the junior boy's singles final at the Australian Open ...
 Belgium's An-Sophie Mestach, left, holds her winners trophy after defeating Puerto Rico's Monica Puig, right, in the girl's singles final at the Aust...
 Belgium's Kim Clijsters gestures after winning the second set against China's Li Na in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis champi...
 Belgium's Kim Clijsters, left, holds the trophy along with runner-up China's Li Na look  after Clijsters won the women's singles final at the Austral...
 China's Li Na looks to play a backhand return to Belgium's Kim Clijsters during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships...

Australian Open Tennis

Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, left, holds the trophy, along with runner-up Australia's Luke Saville in the junior boys' singles final at the Aus...

Australian Open Tennis

Belgium's An-Sophie Mestach holds her trophy aloft after defeating Puerto Rico's Monica Puig in the girl's singles final at the Australian Open tenni...

Australian Open Tennis

Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic holds the trophy after defeating Australia's Luke Saville in the junior boy's singles final at the Australian Open ...

Australian Open Tennis

Belgium's An-Sophie Mestach, left, holds her winners trophy after defeating Puerto Rico's Monica Puig, right, in the girl's singles final at the Aust...

Australian Open Tennis

Belgium's Kim Clijsters gestures after winning the second set against China's Li Na in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis champi...

Australian Open Tennis

Belgium's Kim Clijsters, left, holds the trophy along with runner-up China's Li Na look after Clijsters won the women's singles final at the Austral...

Australian Open Tennis

China's Li Na looks to play a backhand return to Belgium's Kim Clijsters during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships...

In the absence of Serena Williams, there were concerns that this Australian Open might be a bit lackluster on the women's side.
For years, Williams has been the dominant player on the court and one of the game's more entertaining personalities. At the start of the tournament, one Australian newspaper devoted an empty space in its sports pages to Williams, a tribute to all the things it would miss writing about with the defending champion out due to a foot injury.
Turns out, there was no shortage of memorable moments and solid storylines. And all of a sudden, it seemed like everyone was a comedian.
Two of the biggest entertainers turned out to be the women who made it to the final: No. 3-ranked Kim Clijsters and ninth-seeded Li Na.
Li did not deliver China its first Grand Slam trophy Saturday but she made history by reaching the final and kept her sense of humor until the end.
The 28-year-old Li's on-court interviews brought plenty of personality to center court. Li playfully complained over the two-week tournament that her husband and coach, Jiang Shan, kept her up at night snoring and that he controlled the credit card but had promised her she could use it if she won. There was a debate about their wedding anniversary date _ he thought it was the day of her semifinal, she thought it was the day of the final.
"Can you see the yellow T-shirt, this my husband," Li said Saturday, pointing to her husband in the stands after accepting the runners-up trophy.
"I make a lot of jokes about him, but it doesn't matter if you are fat or skinny, handsome or ugly. I will always follow you, always love you," she said with a smile.
In her post-match news conference, Li was asked if she had always been a stand-up comedian and was surprised to hear that not all players cracked jokes.
"Maybe because right now they don't have a lot of good Chinese tennis players," she said, adding she was glad her sense of humor was appreciated. "Thank you. I'll keep going."
Clijsters had tears in her eyes after winning, but she will be remembered for one of the funniest moments of the Australian Open.
The Belgian drew stadium-wide laughter after her second-round match when she revealed and dispelled rumors she was pregnant and reveled in publicly shaming her on-court interviewer.
"You thought I was pregnant?!" the 27-year-old mother-of-one asked former Australian doubles great Todd Woodbridge. She then used his microphone to tell the crowd that Woodbridge had sent a text message to a mutual friend, saying Clijsters "looks really grumpy" and appeared more busty than usual.
Fittingly, Serena chimed in moments after the final ended.
The winner of 13 Grand Slams, including the last two Australian Opens dashed off a congratulatory tweet for Clijsters: "Well done girl!! Wow I'm so impressed! Mommy and winner??? U r my hero!! kiss kiss Serena."
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NEW BELGIAN STAR: Kim Clijsters took a moment on the winner's podium to applaud the next generation of Belgian stars.
Seated with Clijsters' family and friends for the women's final was An-Sophie Mestach, who had won the junior girls championship played on center court earlier in the day.
The No. 2-seeded Mestach beat Monica Puig, the fifth-seeded girl's junior, 6-4, 6-2.
"She won the juniors today. So I want to congratulate An-Sophie, well done!" said Clijsters.
The 16-year-old Mestach told a post-match news conference that it wasn't easy playing on Rod Laver Arena.
"I think at the end I was a little nervous," Mestach said. "Also in the beginning, the first game I was a little nervous, shaking a little."
But the hardest part came afterwards when she accepted her trophy and had to deliver an acceptance speech.
"I had to speak after my match, and I think that was the most difficult part of today," the teenager said.
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BOY'S WINNER: Some of Jiri Vesely's tennis idols were playing before he was born. Now the Czech teen is drawing accolades of his own.
The 17-year-old Vesely won the boy's singles championship Saturday at the Australian Open, 6-0, 6-3, beating Australia's Luke Saville.
A day earlier, Vesely won the boy's doubles title playing with Slovak Filip Horansky.
"It's unbelievable," Vesely said. "I think I played really well this week."
Vesely, the top boy's seed, has the benefit of a top-notch hitting partner. At home, he sometimes practices with fellow Czech Thomas Berdych, the sixth-seeded player in the men's draw. Berdych reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne where he lost to No. 3 Novak Djokovic.
Vesley lists his idols as the Czech stars from the 1970s and 1980s _ eight-time Grand Slam winner Ivan Lendl and three-time Grand Slam champion Jan Kodes _ and Berdych.
"Ivan Lendl and Jan Kodes, they were playing when I wasn't even on the world," the teen said, noting that the game has changed since Kodes won his titles in the early 1970s and Lendl broke through in the 80s.
He likes Roger Federer's game, too, and has fond memories of watching him win: "I was 10 years old and he won the first Wimbledon title."


Updated : 2021-08-02 16:40 GMT+08:00