Azarenka to meet Serena in semifinal

Victoria Azarenka goes into her Brisbane International semi-final against Serena Williams on Friday believing that selfishness is the key to ending four years of disappointment against her nemesis. The world No. 1 from Belarus has a galling 1-11 win-loss record against Williams and is without a victory over the 31-year-old American since 2009. The third seeded Serena Williams defeated compatriot Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-3 to earn the semifinal berth.

The other semi-final pits Anastasia Pavlyuchenko against Lesia Tsurenko after their giant-killing runs continued with victories over fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber and the experienced Daniela Hantuchova. Azarenka is bidding to snap a nine-match losing streak against the woman widely perceived to be the best player in the world despite being officially rated third. "Serena is a tough match, there is no question about it," Azarenka said.

"One more chance for us to meet, and it's going to be a great test for the Australian Open. Azarenka and Williams were the only two seeded players still in contention after No. 36-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia beat No. 4 Angelique Kerber of Germany 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3), her second win over a top 10 player this week after beating 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the first round.Pavlyuchenkova has spent a bit of time with Williams at the Patrick Mouratoglou tennis academy in France, where she has been honing her game with five-time major winner Martina Hingis.

The 21-year-old Russian has even been singing karaoke with the two former No. 1-ranked players. "I haven't had a chance to hit with (Serena), but I had a chance to sing with her,'' she said.

Pavlyuchenkova will next play Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko, 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 followed up her second-round win over Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova.

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