Victoria Azarenka advances to Australian Open semifinals
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With her most famous fan sitting in the crowd wearing a shirt reminding her to keep calm, defending champion Victoria Azarenka overcame some early jitters to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1 on Wednesday and advance to the Australian Open semifinals.
After dropping serve in a long fourth game which went to deuce 10 times, Azarenka recovered to dominate the rest of the match against Kuznetsova, a two-time major winner who was floating dangerously in the draw with a No. 75 ranking as she recovers from a knee injury.
Azarenka will meet the winner of Wednesday's later quarterfinal between Serena Williams and 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens. Williams has lost only one match since a first-round exit at the French Open in a streak that included back-to-back major titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open as well as the Olympic gold medal and season-sending WTA Championship.
She beat Azarenka all five times they played last year, and is 11-1 in career head-to-heads against the 23-year-old Belarusian. Azarenka's American rapper friend, Redfoo, returned from a concert in Malaysia to attend Wednesday's quarterfinal match.
Wearing a red sleeveless T-shirt that read "Keep Calm and Bring Out the Bottles," the name of his next single, Redfoo stood, clapped and yelled ``Come on, Vika!'' during the tight first set.
Asked if it helped to have her No. 1 fan wearing a keep calm logo, Azarenka said "I was looking more at the part that says `Bring out the bottles."
Of her game, she added, "I'm just glad I could produce my good tennis when it was needed.''In the men's quarterfinals, 17-time major winner Roger Federer was playing No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a night match and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray was to meet Jeremy Chardy of France.
Novak Djokovic is already through the semifinals after his 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych on Tuesday night.