|#9 Na Li||#3 Kim Clijsters|
The first Grand Slam of the year will be handed out on Saturday morning in Australian Open betting action, as Kim Clijsters takes on Na Li at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park.
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This is the biggest stage that Li has ever been on, as she is searching for her first Grand Slam title. This is her first ever finale, as she made it through the semifinals for the first time after a failed attempt last year here Down Under. Li has been absolutely clinical in this tournament, as she didn’t drop a single set until facing the world’s No. 1 rated player, Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki had her down two match points, but Li fought back, breaking service in the second set and storming to a 6-3 victory in the third and decisive set. The argument could be made that Li played the match of her life against the Dane, as she only committed 15 unforced errors, the fewest she has made in a match in this tournament, and she won 74 percent of her first service points, also her best mark at the Aussie Open.
Unfortunately for Li though, this is a significantly more difficult challenge. Clijsters might have been ranked third in this tournament at its outset, but she was always the Australian Open favorite ever single step of the way. She has never won a Grand Slam event outside of the US Open, but she does have three straight triumphs and four straight finals appearances in Flushing Meadows in the US Opens that she has entered. This is the second time that Clijsters has been a finalist in the Australian Open, as she came up short in 2004. She was also a semifinalist four other times before retiring for a few years in 2007. The Belgian has some momentum on her side as well because she recently announced that this is most likely her last year on the WTA Tour, and if that holds true, this might be her last chance at a Grand Slam event. Clijsters hasn’t even really been pushed that hard in this tournament, as she has not dropped a set and has only had to play three tiebreakers in six matches.
After going with Li for several matches though, we have to stay in her corner. We tend to believe that the Australian Open lines are really inflated due to the Clijsters announcement, and though we recognize that the Belgian should absolutely be the favorite to win this event, she clearly isn’t going to win it more than perhaps four out of seven times. We’ll take our chances that Li gets the job done in the Australian Open final to give China its first ever Grand Slam winner.
Australian Open Free Pick: Na Li +245 at BetPhoenix