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Belarussian Victoria Azarenka is assured of retaining the world number one ranking after she successfully defended the Australian Open title on Saturday, beating Li Na of China in three sets 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in what is described as a dramatic final which featured a break for fireworks, a couple of medical timeouts and a painful fall to the court by Li Na.

When the match ended, Azarenka finally broke down in tears.

“Unfortunately, you have to go through some rough patches to achieve great things. That’s what makes it so special for me,” she said.

“I went through that, and I’m still able to kiss that beautiful trophy,” she added.

Serena Williams, who lost in the quarterfinals at the Melbourne Park, will rise to number two in the rankings next week.

The majority of the crowd at the Rod Laver Arena seemed to cheer firmly for Li. For Azarenka, her errors are met with applause. This frosty reception stemmed from Azarenka’s controversial semifinal win over American Sloane Stephens where the top-ranked player called for a ten-minute medical timeout when Stephens was about to serve to stay on the match in the second set. When the match resumed, Azarenka broke Stephens serve.

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