Aus Open Day 13: Li v Azarenka women's final
Following Victoria Azarenka's controversial medical time-out on Thursday, it's likely Li Na will be the crowd favourite in their women's final, says chief tennis writer Linda Pearce.PT2M45S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2dbga 620 349 January 25, 2013
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- Fans out of love over Azarenka's breathtaking pause
TICKETS for the Australian Open have been on sale for almost four months. Yet, as of Thursday afternoon, the women's final was not sold out.
Maybe the brevity of some women's finals had persuaded would-be ticket buyers the event did not stack up on a dollar-for-play basis.
Perhaps that was because the $294.90 adult tickets did not come with complimentary ear plugs. An oversight given the ''Decibelles'', Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, had proven last year that if rock'n'roll ain't noise pollution, women's tennis often is.
Scream queen ... the fragile state of Victoria Azarenka's mind, and her tolerance to hot conditions, hold the key to the final. Photo: AFP
Why pay for a sensory experience you can get for nothing standing outside an opened window at a brothel?
Or maybe the brevity of some women's finals had persuaded would-be ticket buyers the event did not stack up on a dollar-for-play basis. (Even child's tickets for the women's final were $279.90. An argument for contraception the Vatican could not refute.)
The tickets might be snapped up.
Popular ... China's Li Na. Photo: Pat Scala
Meanwhile, do not expect Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to parade around Melbourne Park in a sandwich board spruiking the women's final. After his five-set loss to Roger Federer on Wednesday night, Tsonga was asked about the unpredictability of women's tennis, compared with the entrenched dominance of the top four men.
''You know the girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us,'' he said. ''I'm sure everyone will say it's true. Even the girls.''
Greeted with nervous laughter, Tsonga kept digging.
''No? No, don't you think? But I mean, it's about the hormones and all this stuff. We don't have all these bad things, so we are physically in good shape every time and you are not. That's it.''
The day after Tsonga made his remarks, Maria Sharapova was upset 6-2, 6-2 by China's Li Na. It is hard to tell if the typically sour-faced Sharapova's defeat was the consequence of some physical or psychological affliction.
Or whether, having dropped just nine games in her previous five matches, she had played too little tennis. Either way, it was an ignominious drubbing.
Then, defending champion Victoria Azarenka underwent a sudden meltdown late in a match against 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens. The Belarusian blew four match points with unforced errors, lost her serve and left the court for a 10-minute ''medical time-out''.
During which, presumably, Azarenka laid on a leather lounge and told the tournament psychiatrist about her troubled childhood and disturbing dreams.
Coincidence or vindication? Either way, unless Tsonga knows a surgeon who can surgically remove racquets from delicate crevices, he should not stick his head in the women's locker room and say ''I told you so''!
The value-for-money women's final was supposed to have been Sharapova-Serena Williams.
But, for the WTA Tour's beancounters, trading the Russian glamour and the American superstar for a popular woman from the lucrative Chinese market means no commercial damage has been done.
Sharapova's defeat might even have a counter-intuitive outcome. The absence of the world's most marketable female athlete (and, particularly, her shriek) will make the final more enticing for some. Not that the final will feature two church mice. It will be jackhammer loud on the grunt Azarenka's side of the net, and also in the her court-side box. There you will find Redfoo. Which is not some sort of food colouring, but an American ''singer, dancer, DJ and rapper'' who is playing the role of Azarenka's boyfriend here.
The fragile state of Azarenka's mind, and her intolerance to hot conditions, holds the key to a final. One which, if Li Na can thump the ball as she did against Sharapova, might even be an epic.
Not that length is always a measure of quality.
Andy Murray's camp had complained about the Scot having to play his games in the afternoon while semi-final opponent Roger Federer played at night.
But, having taken just 111 minutes to win his quarter-final, Murray went to Hisense Arena to get some extra work and acclimatise to the lightbulbs.
Because he has played so well, Murray has been poor value for money so far. When he challenges the great Swiss, that will change.