- Easter worshippers shocked as car rams church, injuring 21
- NYT’s David Brooks: Obama has ‘manhood problem’ in Middle East
- Ted Cruz thanks Obama for denying visas to terrorists
- Survivors recall chaos, fear in Everest avalanche
- General Mills apologizes for ‘right to sue’ confusion, reverses policy
- Dealer wanted in U.S. for art fraud nabbed in Spain
- Easter morning delivery for space station
- Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76
- Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for eastern shootout
Victoria Azarenka vs Li Na in final in Australia
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Victoria Azarenka will have 48 hours to calm her nerves, rest her body and move past a center-court controversy before she returns to defend her Australian Open title.
Her opponent is an emotionally and physically fresher Li Na, the 2011 French Open champion.
Both women used the word “hungry” to describe how much they want to win their second Grand Slam title. Both say their goal is to keep cool and not let their emotions get the best of them on the big day.
In that respect, the sixth-seeded Li enters the final with an advantage.
The 30-year-old Li is in top physical form and making a Grand Slam comeback. After becoming the first Chinese tennis player to win at a major in 2011, she hit a slump. But she hired Justine Henin’s former coach six months ago and the partnership has produced rapid results.
Li charged into the semifinals at the Australian Open without dropping a set. As a result, she will return to the top five after beating No. 4-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.
She needed just 93 minutes on Thursday to power past No. 2 Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2. She then charmed an adoring crowd by cracking jokes during an on-court interview. She kidded about her husband’s snoring, her attempts to lose weight and the tough training by coach Carlos Rodriguez _ before turning to the stands to thank him.
“You don’t need to push me anymore. I will push myself,” she told Rodriguez, who helped Henin win seven majors and seems to have a knack for guiding players past their nerves.
A similar slogan carried over into Azarenka’s semifinal, where her rap star friend Redfoo sat in the stands cheering her on in a T-shirt that read: “Let’s Do It.”
The confident and big-hitting Azarenka also advanced in straight sets, beating American teenager Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4. But the victory was packed with drama and ended with the top-ranked player defending herself against accusations of gamesmanship by leaving the court for a medical timeout.
Serving for the match at 5-3, the 23-year-old Azarenka wasted five match points, lost her serve _ then called a timeout. She sat with a trainer and left the court during a nine-minute medical break. She returned to close out the match by breaking Stephens’ serve.
But she raised suspicion during her interview on center court.
“Well, I almost did the choke of the year,” a relieved Azarenka said to the crowd. “I just felt a little bit overwhelmed. I realized I’m one step away from the final and nerves got into me for sure.
“I love to play here and I just couldn’t lose, that’s why I was so upset.”
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- In Colorado, a marijuana holiday tries to go mainstream
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- CURL: Shelly O first lady Michelle Obama comes in last
- UNICEF launches 'Mr. Poo' mascot in India to curb public defecation
- See the scathing documents detailing $600 billion squandered in Afghanistan
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.