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Li should beat Cibulkova, but better bet offered at same price

The Australian Open final has been a scene of disappointment for Na Li twice before, but there is every reason to believe that it will be third time lucky when she takes on Dominika Cibulkova.

Li has triumphed in all four previous meetings between the pair, including the only hard-court showdown, which was also the most recent, in Toronto last year.

It is 4/11 that Li continues this perfect record and given that Cibulkova’s game is almost solely based around powerful ground strokes, the fourth seed should have the savvy to keep her opponent pushed back on the baseline.

However, Cibulkova has been a successful underdog in each of the last three rounds to make her maiden Grand Slam final and it would be dangerous to write her off at 9/4 in the Australian Open odds.

After all, Li has buckled under the pressure in Melbourne before, winning the opening set in both her previous Australian Open defeats to Kim Clijsters in 2011 and then Victoria Azarenka 12 months ago.

Cibulkova is 9/2 to tread the same path with a 2-1 victory.

But undoubtedly the best bet for the final is that Li is responsible for serving the first ace, which can be backed at the same price as the Li victory at 4/11.

For all of her big-hitting in rallies, Cibulkova doesn’t have the most deadly of serves and she has only managed two aces across the whole of her six games in Melbourne to reach this final.

And one of these was against an injured Maria Sharapova.

Li has served 18 in the same number of matches and comfortably bettered Cibulkova in the aces department in each of their last three meetings.

Over 4.5 aces in the match is also worth considering, especially if the match goes to three sets.