Found January 24, 2013 on
For a moment it seemed that Sloane Stephens was heading for a replay of her previous match -- losing the first set, seeing her opponent pull up at the start of the second with some sort of injury and then ...
But she could not quite reproduce the full scenario of her upset against Serena Williams. Victoria Azarenka, playing like the world No. 1 for most of the match until, in her words, "I almost did the choke of the year" went through to the final by 6-1, 6-4.
The scoreline, however, tells nothing of the drama of the last two games. Stephens, who has been pushing Azarenka on several occasions without being able to win many games, broke the Belarussian for the third time in the second set after Azarenka had missed five match points.
Stephens' hitting from the baseline had finally clicked into the rhythm that had given Serena so much trouble and Azarenka suddenly found herself struggling to handle it. She netted a backhand on the first match point; hit a forehand long on the second and so it went. When the 19-year-old American finally hit a terrific forehand winner up the line to hold serve and close the gap to 4-5, Rod Laver Arena erupted.
But then Azarenka brought proceedings to a halt - just as Williams had done in the quarterfinal. Once again the trainer was called; once again there was manipulation of the player's torso and once again people started wondering who was being manipulated.
Earlier, Dr. Tim Wood, who was called on court again, confirmed for me that Serena had been very sore when she did something to her lower back, but Azarenka refused to confirm anything about her injury when she was asked about it in the on-court interview which only served to arouse suspicions. Had she called for a time out because she was panicking or because she was really hurt? In press conference later she was grilled on the subject.
"I should have called the trainer a little bit earlier before that, when I got to the point I couldn't really breathe and had to go off court," she said. "So there was a little of my bad (sic.) But a rib just locked and kept getting worse. I had to have it adjusted. The trainer said we have to go off court to treat that. I really didn't want to take off my dress on the court."
It was pointed out that she had not mentioned the injury on court on during a TV interview immediately afterward.
"What can I tell you a few seconds after the match?" she said, looking a little flustered. "I couldn't really talk about everything that was going on. You know, I'm telling you what happened right now, honestly, that my back was bothering me. It took me too long of a time to call the trainer which was my mistake."
Azarenka admitted that the feeling of not being to breathe because of her rib caused her to panic. "It was just so stressing me out, the pain that I had that - you know, maybe it was overreaction but I just really couldn't breathe."
As with Serena two days before, one does have to take the athlete's word for it because no one knows how they really feel. Medical time outs and how they are used is a constant topic of controversy and misunderstanding and there doesn't seem to be any immediate solution.
To her credit, Stephens refused to use any of this as an excuse for her defeat. With the innocence of youth she said, "The whole time I've been on the WTA tour I've never had a medical timeout, so I don't know how it feels. I don't know what they do. It's happened to my opponents before. I've had in the last match, the match before, medical breaks, go to the bathroom, the whole slowdown. But it didn't affect anything, I don't think. I know I lost the next game but I wouldn't say that's because of the medical timeout."
Stephens admitted to being nervous and she was legitimately outplayed for most of the match by a top player in top form. But the winners she produced toward the end revealed the possibilities that lie within her game and she will learn from all her experiences here in Melbourne. The 19-year-old will now move up to No. 17 on the WTA ranking and there is no reason why the upward momentum will not continue.
Maria Sharpova's easy start to the tournament came to a shuddering halt when she was outplayed by China's Li Na 6-2, 6-2. Having only dropped nine games in four matches going in, Sharapova suddenly found it difficult to win any herself.
"She played an excellent match," Sharapova admitted. "She was aggressive, taking the first ball and doing something with it. When I was trying to, I was making too many unforced errors. I felt like I had my fair share of opportunities. I just couldn't take them today."
Even when winning the French Open in 2011 - the same year she reached the final here - the Chinese player was not hitting the ball with such power and authority. Many of her forehands simply left Sharapova standing.
Fit or not, Azarenka is going to have her work cut out in the final if Li maintains this form.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Serena Williams shared a picture on her Twitter account Wednesday night of her swollen right ankle and, as you can see, the area is massive in size. Williams didn’t add much context to the photo, only writing “ouch” in her tweet. We don’t know when the picture was taken, but what we do know is that Williams rolled her right ankle during her first-round match at the Australian...
Technically, choking is only an injury, or medical emergency, if something is stuck in your throat. So the No. 1 women's tennis player, Victoria Azarenka, on the verge of choking away her match Thursday, resorted to a cheap trick to beat American teen Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open semifinals.
Azarenka faked an injury, and walked off the court for 10 minutes for treatment...
A lot of people are referring to it as gamemanship- others are calling it flat out fakery...
But Victoria Azarenka used an injury timeout to stop Sloane Stephens' momentum in their semi-final match at the Australian Open. Up 5-3 in the second, Azarenka served for the match and had five match points- losing them all.
She called for a doctor, as rules allow...
Serena Williams was definitely not 100% when she lost to Sloane Stephens in the Aussie Open earlier this week. She was having back issues, and now we find out her ankle wasn’t exactly in perfect shape either. Serena took to Twitter to show off the picture of her ankle following her defeat. Ouch is right. Ouch mob.li/_nxDCj — Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) January 24, 2013...
Serena Williams mentioned a litany of injuries she has been dealing with during the Australian Open after she was ousted by Sloane Stephens in the tournament’s quarterfinals this week — a match that featured Serena doing her best “HULK SMASH!” impression at the expense of a innocent racquet — and on Wednesday night she decided to tweet compelling evidence of at least one...
This was Sydney last year. What will Melbourne be this year?
Follow for updates from the women’s final as the match unfolds. Victoria Azarenka seeks to defend her title and her #1 ranking, but Li Na looks for a third straight victory over a top-four opponent.
Azarenka 1*-0: Having claimed that she would silence her nerves for her second final here, Li suggests otherwise...
There is now a plausible, but completely disgusting, explanation for Serena Williams’ early exit at the Australian Open.
One day after losing in the quarterfinals to 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens, Williams tweeted a picture and provided insight as to why she struggled as much as she did in the match.
Describing her ankle as severely swollen is an understatement. After injuring...
19-year-old American Sloane Stephens just knocked off 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
Serena won the first set 6-3, but injured her back in the second set, and didn't look like herself for the rest of the match. Sloane would win the final two sets, 7-5, 6-3, to move on to the semifinals.
And after one point in the...
That…that just ain’t right.
Well, this helps explain why Serena Williams came up short in her Australian Open quarterfinal match against Sloane Stephens. Serena tweeted out this picture of what is allegedly her right ankle, with a caption consisting of nothing more than the word ouch, an understatement if ever there was one. Trust me, ankles are never supposed to look like Popeye’s...
Serena Williams lost to Sloane Stephens in the quarter finals of the Australian Open earlier this week. Serena injured her ankle during a loss in a doubles match with her sister Venus. Yesterday Serena shared with Twitter just how swollen her ankle is.
Ouch is right! It looks like a grapefruit. WOW.
photo via Twitter
Serena hurt her back and ankle when she lost her match against Sloane Stephens. As you can see above her ankle isn’t a pretty sight.
Safe to say nothing sexy about that. If you have a foot fetish look away.
The Final of the 2013 Australian Open was supposed to be a grand showdown between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. After Williams was stunned by 19 year-old American Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals, most people assumed the Final would be a re-match between Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. Those two women met in the Australian Open Final last year, with Azarenka winning in...
You are probably wonder who is this Sloane Stephens woman who is currently trending on Twitter for beating Serena Williams.
Here are some details courtesy of Wikipedia.
She is 19
She is the Youngest Woman in the Top 40 Women’s ranking.
Born in Florida.
Starting playing Tennis at the age of 9.
Her idols are Serena and Venus Williams, who also mentor her.
Her favorite TV Show is...
The 19-year-old Sloane Stephens recorded the best upset of her career.
In the most shocking result of the 2013 Australian Open to date, the 19-year-old rising star Sloane Stephens capitalized on an ailing Serena Williams to reach the semifinals in just her seventh appearance at a major main draw. Rallying from losing the first set, Stephens conquered not only her injured but still...