Li Na v Dominika Cibulkova
Li Na has been in the final twice before. Last year she lost to Azarenka in 3 sets and in 2011 it was Kim Clijsters who took the title in the deciding set. The top Chinese player knows what it takes to win a slam. In 2011 she won the French Open. When she goes deep into a slam she performs well even when she loses.
No one expected Cibulkova to be in the final. I doubt she really expected it herself. She has beaten Sharapova which wasn’t a huge shock and Halep who surprisingly wasn’t able to handle the situation in the quarter final. The real surprise was that having beaten the defending champion in the quarter final Radwanska was too tired to put up any sort of resistance.
Cibulkova has beaten 3 big names that were well below par on the day. She has been approaching each match with the same plan. Be aggressive. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, no big deal.
In Li’s previous Oz Open finals she was underdog. When she played Schiavone at Roland Garros she was a 1.80 favourite. This time she starts at 1.39 and that puts an extra level of pressure on her.
Cibulkova will at least try to adopt the approach that has got her this far. She hasn’t shown many nerves in the previous rounds but this is a whole different situation. I watched her against Halep and the thought that stuck in my mind was that she just wasn’t missing. There will be a lot more errors today. She is up against another big name but this time the big name is in excellent form and has a great deal of relevant experience to draw upon.
If Cibulkova can hold it together we should have a great final but I have to go with experience. Also in their previous 4 meetings Cibulkova managed to win just 1 set.
Li rarely does things the easy way although she has dropped just one set (to Safarova) in her 6 matches. This is her year to finally win the Australian Open.
I think we will see a better price on Li in the opening games and anything over 1.65 gets my interest.