Na Li may have lost her last four meetings with Victoria Azarenka, but the addition of new coach Carlos Rodriguez can bring an end to this winless streak in the women’s Australian Open final.
Azarenka’s stranglehold over her opponent and the fact that she is the world number one are obvious reasons as to why she is the 8/11 favourite to win a second consecutive Australian Open title.
This should not deter punters from backing Li though, as she was the underdog in winning both her quarter final over Agnieszka Radwanska and then her semi final over Maria Sharapova.
The main problem is that Azarenka is a far more complete player than either of these two.
Radwanska is strong in the rally but lacking in any threatening power, while Sharapova can trade blows with the best, but is weak on mobility.
Azarenka can live with Sharapova in terms of power and is arguably only marginally weaker than Radwanska in terms of her movement.
This is the first time that Li will face Azarenka since being coached by Rodriguez and he has already made a big impression on her game.
Not only has he been working Li exceedingly hard physically, her mental fortitude has improved and she has shown great levels of patience to dissect her opponents.
The 2011 French Open winner will need this against Azarenka, who is most at home on hard courts and will get balls back.
The early stages will be important here and how much the crowd get on the back of Azarenka after her late antics against Sloane Stephens, when leaving the court for what has been described as a ‘nervous’ break.
Azarenka was said to be troubled by a sore ankle too and it will be interesting how well she moves in the opening few games.
Li had most joy targeting the second serve of Sharapova which had too much taken off it. If Azarenka makes a similar mistake, she will be on the back foot and more than likely collecting the runner-up trophy.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date