Azarenka rolls into Australian Open semifinals

03:18, Jan 23 2013
Australian Open 2013
Janko Tipsarevic celebrates his straight sets win over Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.
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Lleyton Hewitt's returns a point during his loss to Janko Tipsarevic.
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Novak Djokovic on his way to a first round straight sets victory.
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No 1 seed Victoria Azarenka in action on day two.
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Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand in her second round match against Eleni Daniilidou of Greece.
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Serena Williams of the United States of America plays a backhand in her second round match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
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Ekaterina Makarova of Russia hits a return to Angelique Kerber of Germany during their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
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ictoria Azarenka of Belarus hits a return to Elena Vesnina of Russia during their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
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Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (right) kisses Elena Vesnina of Russia after defeating her in their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
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Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to compatriot Ekaterina Makarova.
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Victoria Azarenka of Belarus celebrates winning her Quarterfinal match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
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Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia looks on after falling in her Quarterfinal match against Victoria Azarenka.
Andy Murray  celebrates his win over Jeremy Chardy.
Andy Murray celebrates his win over Jeremy Chardy.
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Andy Murray during his match against Jeremy Chardy.
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It was not Maria Sharapova's day, winning just four games in a straight sets loss to Li Na.
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Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand in her Semifinal match against Sloane Stephens of the United States.
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Sloane Stephens of the United States of America plays a backhand in her Semifinal match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
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Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to David Ferrer of Spain.
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David Ferrer of Spain reacts during his men's singles semi-final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
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Andy Murray missed a chance to serve out the match in the fourth set, but finished off Roger Federer in the fifth.
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A dejected Roger Federer during his post-match press conference.
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Victoria Azarenka bursts into tears after defeating Li Na for back-to-back Australian Open titles.
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Belarusian Victoria Azarenka kisses the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in the locker room as women's singles champion.
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Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point during his Australian Open final victory over Andy Murray.

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka has beaten Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova to move into the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

After a tough opening set, the Belarusian cruised through the second to wrap up a 7-5 6-1 win in one hour 47 minutes.

She will now face the winner of the quarter-final between Americans Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens.

Victoria Azarenka
FINAL FOUR: A screaming Victoria Azarenka marched into the Australian Open semifinals, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets.

Azarenka said she was prepared for Kuznetsova's tricky game.

"She played really well throughout the whole match," she said.

"I know what she is capable of so I was prepared.

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"She plays a little bit differently so I was happy I could adapt and find my best tennis when it was necessary."

Azarenka said she maintained the passion for the game that she had when she first picked up a racquet as a youngster.

"I always had that fire, I would never leave the court until 10pm," she said.

"I wish every kid was like that."

Kuznetsova grabbed the first service break to lead 3-1 in the opening set as Azarenka's return bounced wide of the line.

But the Belarusian was handed it back in the seventh game when Kuznetsova double-faulted.

She again broke to lead 6-5 with a cross court return and went on to take the set in 77 minutes.

With a break of serve in the fifth game following a another crucial double fault from Kuznetsova, Azarenka took a 5-1 lead then broke again for the match.

The pair had met seven times previously and while Kuznetsova held a 4-3 record, she dominated their early encounters.

But Azarenka has held the upper hand in recent matches, beating the Russian twice last year, at Indian Wells and in Madrid.

Kuznetsova was sidelined for much of 2012 with a knee injury and was on crutches for two months.

However the 27-year-old, who admitted she was jaded last year, made a determined bid to return refreshed for 2013.

A winner of the US and French Opens, she came into the Australian Open after reaching the quarter-finals in Sydney as a qualifier.

AAP