Through the course of this tournament, it was Cibulkova who did more of the heavy lifting. She took out No. 3 Sharapova, No. 5 Radwanska and No. 11 Simona Halep. The best Li faced were No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 26 Lucie Safarova and No. 28 Flavia Pennetta.
Still, she beat the players who were placed in front of her. With Cibulkova, it was no different. Almost immediately, Li collected the match's first break of serve, but you kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Sure enough, in the sixth game, Li faced break point -- and knocked a double fault well long to even the match at 3-all. With Cibulkova looking for her first lead, she had three game points at 4-all but failed to cash them. A double fault betrayed her nerves, but no fewer than four forehand errors brought the match back to on serve.
At 5-all, a Cibulkova double fault made it 15-30. Li's sharp backhand crosscourt winner brought her to the threshold of the key break. A deep ball from the baseline forced a Cibulkova backhand into the net.
Serving for the first set at 6-5, Li actually forged a set point. But she yanked a backhand wide. Cibulkova went after Li's first serve and followed with a superb forehand winner. Another deep forehand forced a backhand into the net, and that delivered the two into a pivotal tiebreaker.
In that potentially crippling crucible, Li finally found her composure. She hung in on the rallies, and it was Cibulkova who unraveled. Two backhands into the net gave Li the frame, which has historically been a good omen. Twenty-seven of the previous 29 major finals between women went to the one who won the first set.
Li dropped her first two points of the second set, but rallied to hold. Then she broke Cibulkova to take a 2-0 lead and the hook had been set.
"I don't really know where to start," Cibulkova said afterward, holding her runner-up trophy. "This was just a fantastic two weeks of my life. I think I'm going to cry."
And she did.
"Li Na," Cibulkova concluded, "she had a great tournament; she deserves to be the winner."