Serena, Azarenka in Brisbane semis

Updated 04 January 2013
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Serena, Azarenka in Brisbane semis

BRISBANE: Serena Williams had a tough win over the woman she’s predicting will one day top the rankings as she set up a semifinal match at the Brisbane International against current No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
The reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic champion showed plenty of emotion on key points in a heavy-hitting duel with Fed Cup teammate Sloane Stephens yesterday before winning 6-4, 6-3.
Williams converted both of her break points and fended off one break chance against her in each set, later saying Stephens had the potential to be “the best in the world one day.” Stephens was hitting the ball hard and cleanly, and got the better of some powerful rallies, but lacked experience in the two key moments — giving up a set point after wasting a game point on her own serve in the first and then dropping serve in the eighth game of the second set.
The 19-year-old Stephens appeared to suggest in the second set that some of the animated fist pumps and “Come On” calls coming from the other side were disrespectful, but later said she was just joking with her coach and accepted the warm praise from Williams, her childhood idol.
“To have someone like that who I think is one of the greatest players to ever play the game say that about you is really nice,” Stephens said. “I lost to the best player in the world today, so, you know, it’s good.” Olympic and US Open champion Andy Murray was pushed further than he expected before winning his opening match 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 against Australian qualifier John Millman, who finished last year ranked No. 228.
The third-ranked Murray, the defending Brisbane champion, clutched at his stomach after missing a forehand in the third game of the second set and later had to save four set points before Millman evened the match at one set apiece. Murray recovered from his lapse, got the only break in the deciding third set and finished off by holding serve at love. He’ll meet Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, a 7-5, 7-5 winner over former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, in the quarterfinals.
“For a first match of the year, that was a perfect match in many ways to go through some tough moments, a lot of long rallies, close games, and important points,” Murray said. “It was great to play in an atmosphere like that for the first match of the year, to get back into the swing of playing in front of large and loud crowds.
“No matter how much you practice, you can’t replicate those sorts of atmospheres.” In the other men’s second-round matches, Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria upset No. 2-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 6-3, 6-4 and No. 7 Jurgen Melzer of Austria had a 6-5, 7-6 (4) win over David Goffin of Belgium.
The women’s semifinals are set for today, with Williams getting the least recovery time.
She seemed to have trouble with her right calf muscle midway through the second set against Stephens, knocking her lower leg three times with her racket before she served at 40-0 in the fifth game, but later said she didn’t have any injury concerns.
Williams has an 11-1 record against Azarenka and was 5-0 against the 23-year-old Belarussian in 2012, including the US Open final. Azarenka started 2012 on a run, winning the Sydney International and the Australian Open — her first major — and gaining the No. 1 ranking during a 26-match winning streak.

But after a first-round exit in the French Open, Williams finished 2012 as the most dominant woman on tour. She has won 34 of her last 35 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the US Open and the WTA Championships.
With the Australian Open starting on Jan. 14, and neither Azarenka nor Williams playing another tournament before then, Friday’s semifinal shapes up as a classic.
“I’m going up against the world’s greatest tomorrow. She had a fabulous (last) year,” Williams said of Azarenka. “I feel like I have nothing to lose. She’s playing so well, she won I think in 20 minutes today. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow.” That was a slight exaggeration. Azarenka took 68 minutes to win her quarterfinal match. And she was looking forward to a chance to beat Williams, a 15-time major winner, before the first Grand Slam event of 2013.
“Well, it’s a tough match, there is no question about it,” Azarenka said. “It’s going to be a great test for the Australian Open.” Azarenka and Williams are the only two seeded players still in contention in Brisbane after No. 36-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia beat No. 4 Angelique Kerber of Germany 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3) in the first of the quarterfinals, her second win over a top 10 player this week after eliminating 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the first round.
Pavlyuchenkova will next play Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, the lucky loser from qualifying who got into the main draw when No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova withdrew due to a sore right collarbone. Tsurenko had a 6-3, 6-4 win over Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.


Australia get crucial 1-1 draw with Denmark at World Cup

Updated 21 June 2018
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Australia get crucial 1-1 draw with Denmark at World Cup

  • 38th-minute penalty was set up after Denmark forward Yussuf Poulsen was penalized for a handball
  • Going into the tournament, world No. 36 Australia were the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12

SAMARA, Russia: Mile Jedinak’s penalty kick gave Australia a 1-1 draw against Denmark and new life at the World Cup on Thursday.
The 38th-minute penalty was set up after Denmark forward Yussuf Poulsen was penalized for a handball following a video review.
Poulsen was also given a yellow card and will be suspended for the team’s final group match against France because of accumulation.
The goal was Jedinak’s second from the spot at this year’s World Cup, and it stopped Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s five-match streak of clean sheets for the Danes.
Christian Eriksen scored in the opening minutes for Denmark, which have gone unbeaten in 17 straight international matches.
Going into the tournament, world No. 36 Australia were the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12.
With a loss to France in the opener, a defeat on Thursday would have made it nearly impossible for the Socceroos to advance to the next stage. Denmark, meanwhile, won their first match against Peru.
Australia lost to 1998 World Cup champions France 2-1 on Saturday in Kazan, with both French goals coming as the result of video technology. But the score did not reflect the Socceroos’ gritty defensive performance.
Australia again took a defensive stand against Denmark, which were back at the World Cup after missing out on the tournament in Brazil.
The Danes were coming off a 1-0 victory over Peru on Saturday in Saransk.
Poulsen, who plays for German club RB Leipzig, scored the lone goal.
It is the fifth World Cup appearance for the Danes, who reached the quarterfinals in 1998.
Australia were also making a fifth trip to the World Cup. The team’s best showing was in the 2006 quarterfinals.
Moments after Mathew Leckie’s header for Australia sailed over the goal, Eriksen sent a left-footed shot over goalkeeper Mathew Ryan’s outstretched arms.
Pione Sisto nearly gave the Danes the advantage just after the halftime break, but his shot went to the right of the goal. Australia added some firepower in the 68th, bringing on 19-year-old Daniel Arzani as both teams scrambled for a winning goal.
Australia lost Andrew Nabbout in the 74th minute with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder. He was replaced by Tomi Juric.
Denmark’s opening victory over Peru was marred by the loss of starting midfielder William Kvist, who fractured two ribs and is likely to miss the rest of the tournament. He was replaced in the starting lineup against Australia by Lasse Schone.
Denmark’s last loss was in October 2016 against Montenegro, 1-0 in Copenhagen.

GROUP DYNAMICS
The highlight of Group C will be the match between France and Denmark on Tuesday in Moscow. The top finishers in the group will go on to play opponents from Group D, which includes Croatia, Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.

KEYS TO SUCCESS
Eriksen, who plays for Tottenham in England, has scored in 17 of the national team’s last 20 matches.
During World Cup qualifying, he scored 11 goals for the Danes, third-best in Europe behind Poland striker Robert Lewandowski with 16 and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo with 15.
Now 26, Eriksen was the youngest player at the World Cup in South Africa. He has 79 appearances for the national team and 23 goals.
He was named man of the match on Thursday.