With her back hurting and the fear of excruciating cramps playing on her mind, 23-year-old American Jamie Hampton battled on bravely against the world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday.
But in the end, Hampton, from Auburn, Ala., lost, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Without the injury, there is every reason to believe Hampton could have pulled off a huge upset on Rod Laver Arena. She was playing Azarenka even before injury struck, forcing the Belarusian, who does not always react well to unexpected pressure, to look uncomfortable.
Having announced her intention of not buckling against her exalted opposition by fighting back from 1-5 to 4-5 in the first set, Hampton took charge of the match in the second. Time and again, she worked out her angles and left Azarenka standing as forehands flashed past her into an open court.
"She was hitting winners all over the place," Azarenka said. "I was thinking maybe I should have a bad back."
For Hampton, it was n...