Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 25th 2014 Contents A55
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continued his dominant streak
over Roger Federer to reach the
Australian Open final for the
third time, beating the 17-time
major winner 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3
yesterday to set up a champi-
onship decider against No 8-
seeded Stan Wawrinka.
With his 23rd win in 33 match-
es against Federer, the 27-year-
old Spaniard set up an ideal
chance to win a 14th Grand Slam
title and to become the first man
to win all four majors at least
twice in the Open era.
Nadal missed the 2013 Aus-
tralian Open during a seven-
month layoff for illness and a
knee injury, but returned to win
the French and US Opens among
his 10 titles for the season and
finished the year at No 1. He won
the Australian Open in 2009,
beating Federer in the final, and
lost in a five-set, 5-hour, 53-
minute 2012 final to Novak
Djokovic after ousting Federer in
the semis. In other years, he s
struggled with injuries---it s the
only Grand Slam tournament he
hasn t won at least twice.
At the end of the night, Federer
knew he wouldn t even be the
No 1-ranked player in Switzerland
next week. By reaching his first
major final, Wawrinka ensured
he d replace Federer as their
country s highest-ranked player
for the first time.
But the 32-year-old Federer is
confident of winning more
majors, expecting some coaching
from Stefan Edberg and contin-
ued improvement in his fitness
to help after a slump in 2013,
when he didn t reach any of the
major finals for the first time in
Nadal is now second on the
list of players reaching Grand
Slam finals, joining Ivan Lendl
on 19 --- Federer leads the list
with 24. Another Grand Slam title
would lift Nadal to equal second
on the all-time list with Pete
Sampras, who was in the crowd
for the match.
Left-handed Nadal hit 13 of his
28 winners on his powerful fore-
hand, attacking Federer s one-
handed backhand yet again.
The first break of the match
came in the sixth game of the
second set, giving Nadal a 4-2
lead. That only heightened the
crowd support for Federer, who
got a standing ovation when he
broke Nadal back to make it 2-
all in the third set, immediately
after dropping serve in the pre-
vious game. It noise and chants
died down again when Federer
was broken again soon after and
Nadal finished off the match.
Wawrinka beat Tomas Berdych
on Thursday night, getting an
extra day off ahead of tomorrow s
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci
rallied to win the last five games
and successfully defended their
Australian Open women s doubles
title yesterday with a 6-4, 3-6,
7-5 victory over Russian pair Eka-
terina Makarova and Elena Ves-
Rafael Nadal reaches
Australian Open final
NYON---UEFA has appointed Alex
Ferguson as an ambassador to oversee
its coaching programmes.
UEFA President Michel Platini said
the former Manchester United manager
will be chairman of its elite club coaches
conference held each September.
"It is an honour and a privilege to
accept this role," Ferguson said at a news
conference with Platini. "It is something
I will enjoy."
Ferguson retired last May after 27
years as United coach after winning his
13th Premier League title. He is now a
director on the club board.
The 72-year-old Scot won 38 trophies
while at Old Trafford including the
Champions League in 1999 and 2008.
Platini said UEFA had responded to
its national associations who asked for
help "to teach the teachers" in coaching.
"I think the arrival of Sir Alex will be
very positive," Platini said. (AP)
Ferguson appointed to UEFA coaching role
MELBOURNE---When Li Na thinks
back to her first Australian Open
final, she doesn t recall feeling nerv-
ous. Just very excited.
The 31-year-old Chinese star makes
her third attempt at winning the
championship in Melbourne today,
and this time she s nervous.
Experience has taught her how to
play on tennis biggest stages, Li said
on the eve of the final.
"Come to the court. Just play. Don t
think too much," said Li, who this
time---for the first time---is considered
the favorite to win the Australian
After two weeks of stunning upsets
cleared away Li s top competition,
she will face No 20-seeded Dominika
Cibulkova, an unheralded but explo-
sive player who has steamrolled
through the tournament with the
carefree spirit of a player with nothing
to lose. The 24-year-old Slovakian
beat four higher-ranked players
including No 3 Maria Sharapova in
the fourth-round and No 5 Agnieszka
Radwanska in the semifinals.
"Everyone has a chance to win the
title," Li said yesterday, deflecting
questions about the pressure of man-
aging expectations or the fact that
this is Cibulkova s first final, or that
she has played Cibulkova four times
and beaten her on each occasion. "I
think I m ready. Same like her."
One thing Li did talk about---a
recurring theme of her news confer-
ences in Melbourne---is how much
she s changed. The Li Na in this year s
final is not the same player that lost
to Victoria Azarenka in 2013, or to
the now-retired Kim Clijsters in 2011.
Li s breakthrough came at the 2011
Australian Open when she gained
fame as the first Chinese player to
reach a Grand Slam final.
"I was so excited. I never thought
about (being) nervous," she said.
Li lost in Melbourne that year, but
a few months later at the French Open
became the first Chinese player to
win a major.
Her 2013 final was one of the most
unusual ever played at Melbourne
Park, with Li crashing to the court
and nearly knocking herself out. A
doctor rushed out and performed a
neurological exam as the hushed
Li has joked several times that the
key to winning in Melbourne is staying
upright. She has also spoken about
the revisions she s made to her game
and her mental approach under the
guidance of coach Carlos Rodriguez,
the former coach of seven-time major
winner Justine Henin.
"I ve changed a lot since last year,"
Since last season, Li has worked
with Rodriguez on changing her grip
when she serves and hits backhands,
resulting in more power and consis-
tency. She s also playing more aggres-
sive at the net, which was not an easy
"When Carlos told me the first
time, you should come in more to
volley, I was like, What is this guy
talking about? " Li said, joking that
she was happy to "stay at the baseline
for 100 years, and never try coming
to the net."
Much of their work has focused on
helping Li stay calm and not bottle
In contrast to her seriousness on
court, Li is quick to crack jokes in
interviews. Asked if she felt her third
final could be the charm, Li said that
luck will have nothing to do with it.
"In China, six and eight are lucky,"
Li said, smiling. (AP)
Li Na's new approach
to the Aussie Open final
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland during their semifinal at the
Australian Open championship in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday. Nadal won 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3. AP PHOTO
Li Na of China poses with a Chinese
flag at the Australian Open tennis
championship in Melbourne,
Australia, yesterday. Li faces
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in
the women's singles final today.
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