Australian Open 2014: How Li Na's Win Will Affect Women's Grand Slam Scene

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIJanuary 27, 2014

Li Na of China smiles beside the championship trophy, during a press conference,  after defeating Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in their women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

Li Na's win over Dominika Cibulkova culminated an unpredictable Australian Open.

The fourth-seed winning the tournament isn't unheard of, but when you consider she was the highest seed in the women's final four, it makes you wonder what happened in Melbourne, and will it continue through the year.

Serena is Still the Queen of the Court

Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

By most accounts, Serena Williams is still the best player in the world. She just stumbled in her fourth-round match against Ana Ivanovic.

Serena has had these types of issues in her career, but always seems to rebound with a vengeance. Though she is 32 years old, she has shown no real signs of slowing down. The loss in Melbourne was probably just an aberration.

The legendary Chris Evert seems to agree. When asked by Margie McDonald of The Australian whether Williams would come back strong from her loss, Evert said:

"Absolutely. A champion like her goes home and works hard and can't wait until she's at the next one."

Williams herself told McDonald, the loss might be good for her. She said:

"Like I said, sometimes it's good when I lose because it takes my head out of the clouds. Not that they are ever there, so to speak. I just work as if I'm ranked 1000."

The French Open is always the toughest Grand Slam for Serena. Only two of her 17 Grand Slam titles have come at Roland Garros, though she is the defending champion. It'll be hard for her to make it back-to-back wins in France.

Li Na is a Real Threat to Take a Second Grand Slam

Aaron Favila/Associated Press

She won the French Open in 2011, and looked really sharp en route to the title in Melbourne. Her game has always worked well on the clay surface.

With her confidence at an all-time high, Na could go into the French Open as one of the favorites. If she can avoid a matchup with Serena, she'd have a great shot.

Li has struggled with Williams' power and has only beaten her once in 11 tries.

Victoria Azarenka is a Mixed Bag

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22:  Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts to a point in her quarterfinal match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland during day 10 of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.  (P
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

You never know if Azarenka will be a rock-solid competitor, or if she'll allow her emotions to get the best of her. Opponents would be wise to play mind games with her in every match. She seems so easily rattled, and once she's off her square, there's almost no regaining her composure.

As talented as Azarenka is, this weakness makes her vulnerable when adversity arises. Bleacher Report's Richard Langford writes:

Azarenka's loss snapped a string of 18 consecutive victories at the year's first major and highlighted a flaw that will keep the 22-year-old Belarussian from ever leaving the legacy that her booming power and immense talent would otherwise allow for.

Azarenka doesn't have the mental maturity to survive rough stretches.

At 24 years of age, she hasn't grown out of it yet. Because of this, it makes it hard to see her as a solid favorite in any tournament for the rest of the year.

If the rest of the play on the WTA scene is as wild as the Australian Open was, fans are in for a memorable year.

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