By Jaclyn Stacey
(January 24, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Victoria Azarenka halted the absorbing run of young American Sloane Stephens in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Thursday, defeating her 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 41 minutes in the notorious Melbourne heat.
Stephens had been riding on a high after shocking the tennis world on Wednesday by defeating 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Against Azarenka she didn’t play badly but was simply overpowered by the world No. 1 and hit too many unforced errors.
Azarenka raced to a 6-1 first set lead in the match by breaking the young American in the first, fifth and seventh games of the set.
The second set was a much more competitive affair as Stephens kept up with the world No. 1 early on. The two swapped breaks on several occasions before Azarenka managed to get ahead 5-3.
Azarenka attempted to serve for the match in the next game but squandered five match point opportunities. Stephen...