- Associated Press - Saturday, January 29, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Kim Clijsters finally won her first Australian Open title and the fourth major of her career, wiping tears from her eyes after she beat Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday.

The loss ended an outstanding run through the tournament by Li, who became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final.

Li appeared to become upset with some of the Chinese spectators in the crowd in the third set and asked the chair umpire to intervene. She later complained about the flashes from photographers at center court.

Clijsters, however, kept her composure all night.

The win for the reigning U.S. Open champion came in what could be her last appearance at Melbourne Park — she had said 2011 might be her last full year on the tour.

After the match, though, she seemed to clarify that — maybe “full year” simply means a restricted schedule.

Asked in a television interview if she would be back to defend her Australian Open title, she replied: “Yes, I would like to.”

Clijsters, who has three U.S. Open titles, lost the 2004 Australian Open final to Justine Henin and has reached the semifinals four other times.

“I finally feel like you guys can call me Aussie Kim because I won the title,” Clijsters said during the trophy presentations, referring to her popularity that stemmed from a past relationship with Australian star Lleyton Hewitt. “Even when things weren’t going good, you guys were really supportive of me and I really appreciate it.”

Looking at Li, Clijsters said: “I think we’ll have a lot more tough battles to come. Hopefully a few more Grand Slam finals would be nice.”

Andy Murray will try to become the first British man in almost 75 years to win a Grand Slam singles title when he plays 2008 champion Novak Djokovic in the men’s final Sunday.

It was the first night match for Li at Rod Laver Arena, where the cooler temperatures after the sun sets usually makes the hard court slower. But Melbourne warmed up late Saturday, making even the night conditions similar to what Li would have experienced in cooler day matches earlier in the tournament.

Li, with her courtside humor and bubbly personality, endeared herself to fans in Melbourne and around the world. Back home, she was a huge hit.

“The Chinese fans were prepared to express their feelings and shed their tears of excitement. We were just one step from victory,” China Central Television announcer Tong Kexin said Saturday. CCTV predicted that about 15 million people would watch the match live on its sports channel.

Li maintained her sense of humor even after the loss, saying she joked in the locker room that tennis matches should last only one set.

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