Cibulkova, Li set for women's Australian Open final

Jan. 24, 2014 at 6:19 AM
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MELBOURNE, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Dominika Cibulkova goes for a pair of firsts Saturday when she plays Li Na for the 2014 Australian Open women's singles title.

A first win over Li would give Cibulkova a first Grand Slam title.

Cibulkova is in her first major tournament final, taking on Li, No. 4 in the world, who Cibulkova hasn't won a set from in their four previous meetings.

That Li is in the finals isn't the biggest of surprises. She played in the semis in Melbourne in 2010 and was a finalist in 2011 and '13. She also has a Grand Slam title, beating Francesca Schiavone in the French Open final in 2011.

But the 20th-seeded Cibulkova is an unexpected guest in the championship match.

When the year's first major tournament started, No. 1-ranked Serena Williams, entering the event with a lengthy winning streak, was a prohibitive favorite to collect a sixth Australian Open title. But 14th-seeded Ana Ivanovic knocked Williams out in the fourth round.

The other favorite was second-ranked Victoria Azarenka, who'd won the last two Australian Open titles. But Azarenka was outplayed by fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and exited in the quarterfinals.

Cibulkova, who has taken out four higher-seeded players in getting to the finals, provided a major upset of her own with a three-set win over No. 3-ranked Maria Sharapova in the fourth round. The set Cibulkova lost in that match is the only one she dropped so far in the tournament.

Li had also beaten four seeded players -- although all lower than her No. 4 seeding -- to get to the finals. The only set she lost also came in the fourth round.

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