Australian Open: Li Na feels 'better prepared' to handle success

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Melbourne Park
Li Na's jokes tickle Melbourne crowd

Li Na says she feels better prepared to handle being a Grand Slam champion the second time around after adding the Australian Open to her French crown.

The Chinese fourth seed, 31, beat Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in Saturday's final.

It is her second major title following victory at the French Open in 2011.

"The first time, I really didn't prepare for that," said Li. "I think now it's different because I prepared to win the Grand Slam."

She gives much of the credit for a more focused attitude to coach Carlos Rodriguez, with whom she began working in 2012.

"Carlos, he has a lot of experience because before he was coaching for Justine Henin," said Li. "We will talk about what we should do, of course.

"This time I was thinking about if I win or if I lose, what kind of life I have, so for sure it's different than last time."

Li will move up to three in the world rankings next week and, with two of the four major titles in tennis to her name, is halfway to a career Slam.

"That would be the best," she said. "Of course it's very easy to say I want to win another one.

"But I think if you are a tennis athlete, you have to know how much working has to be done to win the Grand Slam.

"So of course if I want to win another one or two, I have to go back to court working hard and even more tough than before, otherwise no chance."

Li has famously teased her husband, Jiang Shan, in on-court interviews over the years at Melbourne Park, and he did not escape this time as she thanked him by saying: "You are a nice guy, and also so lucky."

Asked later if her husband might suggest it was time to end the public embarrassment, Li added: "If he said, 'enough,' I think we will divorce.

"Yes, he used to do that. Actually, I didn't feel I was very funny when I was speaking. I was feeling this is normal, it's the way I have to thank the team.

"But after I finished they said, 'Oh, we love your speech.' I say, 'OK, maybe I make the funny.'"

Cibulkova, 24, had made her own piece of history just by reaching the final, as the first player representing Slovakia to do so at a Grand Slam.

"I'm really looking forward to going back home," she said. "In Slovakia, it's a huge thing, it's really big. I am happy I represented my country so well."

And the 20th seed, whose previous best was a semi-final at the 2009 French Open, says she thinks she has what it takes to win one of the sport's major prizes.

"I feel that way," said Cibulkova. "I'm 24 years old and already play in Grand Slam finals. I feel like my game is there to challenge the biggest names, to beat them, so why not?

"Now I know I'm 100% sure I can do it. I get so much confidence from this tournament. I don't want to see it as a pressure.

"I want to keep going like that. I already did well before at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, so I can play on every surface."

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