The Australian Day fireworks were real. Li Na's timeouts were real. Her twisted ankle and bang on the head were also real and, after the drama finally concluded in the final here on Rod Laver Arena, Victoria Azarenka's tears were real as she survived the rocky road to her second straight Australian Open crown.
Azarenka, pilloried for the way she took two timeouts before the penultimate game of her semifinal against Sloane Stephens, redeemed herself with a fighting display that earned her a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Li, who will be an even bigger star in China after this.
For it was Li who, inadvertently at times, created much of the drama. After playing superbly in a first set that saw serve broken seven times, it seemed that she might upset the world No. 1 until she went over on her ankle midway through the second set and received a three-minute timeout.
So it was Azarenka's turn to wait, but after heavy strapping was applied, Li was able to whack a winner on the first point sh...