Serena, Azarenka in Brisbane semis



THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published — Friday 4 January 2013

Last update 4 January 2013 12:25 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

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.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

SYDNEY: Amnesty International has demanded that Mustafa Al-Hosawi, a Saudi prisoner at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, be treated for the torture he underwent at the hands of the CIA.The US branch of the organization sent a message to health officials at the...
JEDDAH: The city’s airport staff saved a 20-year-old woman who tried to throw herself from the upper floor to the mezzanine floor in the southern hall. Sources said the suicide attempt was due to family disputes. Administrators said a supervisor in t...
RIYADH: Education Minister Ahmad Al-Issa has ordered to gradually close down private night schools beginning from the current year. The closure of these schools will be complete by 1439H.Al-Issa’s decision is based on reports of a body, which highlig...
RIYADH: A cross-section of Saudi society on Friday denounced the Jazan massacre that shook the nation on Thursday, when a gunman went on the rampage killing seven education officials and injuring several others in Al-Dair governorate.The culprit, ide...
JEDDAH: Maj. Gen. Awad Al-Balawi, head of the Saudi Border Guard, recently confirmed the expansion of the employment program for women within the border security sector. He said that the sector is entering a new phase as women will be employed in a n...
RIYADH: A medical team of the King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital (KASCH) at the King Abdulaziz Medical City (National Guard) here have successfully conducted the first liver transplant on a baby boy. Fahad Mari Said Al-Sairdh, father of the...
JEDDAH: The Makkah Investigation and Prosecution Board reintroduced the crane crash incident to the Riyadh Investigation and Prosecution Board recently, adding 10 more employees and supervisors from different government agencies before the courts. Th...
JEDDAH: The teacher who gunned down seven education officials in Al-Dair governorate on Thursday had been showing behavioral problems in recent days, Al-Janob Misfer Al-Subhan, director of King Faisal Secondary School in Dharan, was quoted as saying...
JEDDAH: The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is investigating the Nakheel Mall case, in which a girl was beaten up by a group of Haia members, an official of the commission has said. “The HRC is supposed to guarantee the rights of those harmed, whoever...
AL-AHSA: King Faisal University (KFU) in Al-Ahsa is currently studying the possibility of admitting female students to specialize in veterinary medicine, the director of the university, Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saati, confirmed. He said the matter has been p...
JEDDAH: A fingerprinting campaign, titled “Imprint Homeland,” against extremism and terrorism, was launched at the Jeddah corniche on Thursday night. The drive will cover all the 17 regions of Makkah province.The campaign, initiated by the Makkah gov...
RIYADH: The number of unemployed Saudi nationals reached 647,000 by the end of last year, of whom 56 percent, or 363,800, hold bachelor’s degrees or licenses. Female bachelor’s degree and license holders accounted for three-fourths of unemployed Saud...
RIYADH: Four citizens have been arrested in two murder cases, one of which was a road rage. One of the suspects resisted arrest and even opened fire on the police, but no one was injured.According to the Riyadh police, a clinic informed them that it...
MAKKAH: Thirty percent of male middle school students and 23 percent of female students take some form of drugs, a recent scientific study from the National Center for Youth Research confirmed. The study shows drug consumption rates among students in...
RIYADH: Several government departments participating in a campaign to fight breast cancer in the Eastern Province will offer their recommendations to the Ministry of the Interior to include breast cancer checks for women aged 40 and above as part of...

Stay Connected

Facebook