2011 Australian Open Women’s Final: Li Na vs. Kim Clijsters (UPDATED)
Australian Open 2011 Free Live Stream: Belgium’s Kim Clijsters  and China’s Li Na  play for the women’s singles title in Melbourne Park and this could be the most-watched tennis match of all-time.
The East Asian country has a population of 1.3 billion, and the ninth seed is likely to have unparalleled support as she takes on Clijsters at Rod Laver Arena tonight (not before:7:30 PM local time). Li, who will become the first Asian woman to play a Grand Slam final, has been branded a national treasure by Chinese media, even tough tennis has been a relatively unpopular sports in the region.
“Epic win”, declared the Global Times of China, allotting nearly half of its front page to a photo of the 28-year-old from Hubei. Chinese tennis federation head Sun Jinfang, meanwhile, was widely quoted by Beijing News as comparing Li to NBA star Yao Ming and champion hurdler Liu Xiang.
The ninth seed, who started her sporting life with a badminton racket in her hand, is in the final of the 2011 Australian Open because she defeated World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals, upsetting the 20-year-old from Denmark in three sets; 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Though Wozniacki played exceptional defense, Li’s ability to produce flurries of winners on Thursday ultimately outweighed her 51 unforced errors. It was Li’s second straight Aussie semifinal after she fell to the eventual champion Serena Williams last year.
Li and Clijsters have met just before the season’s first Major. The Chinese ace defeated the 27-year-old from Bilzen two weeks ago at WTA Sydney in the championship match; 7-6 (7/3) 6-3. However, most pundits had Clijsters, who advanced with a comfortable win over Russia’s Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals, as the odds-on favorite to win the title ever since they learned that Serena would not defend her crown.
A victory would be the Belgian’s first Australian Open, but her fourth Grand Slam trophy. Clijsters, whose relationship with Australian player Lleyton Hewitt endeared her to fans in Melbourne, has won the U.S. Open three times (2005, 2009, 2010) and is set to climb to No.2 in the world when the next rankings are released on Monday.
If Li wins, it will be a momentous day in tennis.
UPDATE: Clijsters came back from a set down to beat Li 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and win her first Australian Open, the fourth Grand Slam title of her career.
UPDATE 2: You can watch the 2011 Australian Open Men’s Final: Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic HERE.