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 U.S. Open and the WTA Championships.
“I’m going up against the world’s greatest tomorrow. She had a fabulous year,” the third-ranked 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.”
Azarenka actually 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 defeating 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the first round.
Pavlyuchenkova will play Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, the lucky loser from qualifying who got into the main draw when No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova withdrew because of a sore right collarbone. Tsurenko had a 6-3, 6-4 win over Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.
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