Azarenka tries to clarify medical time-out


TENNIS:Victoria Azarenka is hoping the dust has now settled on her controversial semi-final defeat of Sloane Stephens as she plots a way to defend her Australian Open crown against Li Na today.

Azarenka found herself at the centre of a storm after taking a 10-minute medical timeout immediately after failing to take one of five match points against the teenage American.

In the immediate aftermath, when asked why she left the court at 5-4 in the second set, Azarenka said: “I felt a little bit overwhelmed and realising I was one step away, nerves got into me.”

However, an hour later in a press conference she claimed a locked rib which left her struggling to breathe was the reason for her departure from Rod Laver Arena.

She sought to clarify the situation further today when she said: “I feel like yesterday was big news. It’s fair for me to give my story. It was a big misunderstanding. It was bad timing. I would never do something against a player, especially Sloane. I’ve known her since she was a little girl.

“It’s not fair to me because everyone can make a mistake. I just need to calm down with the whole situation, with what happened, and make sure my body’s right.”

The issue has overshadowed the build-up to what should be an intriguing contest between the top seed and China’s Li, who thrashed Maria Sharapova to reach her second Melbourne final.

Azarenka knows she is in for a tough evening. “She’s in incredible form right now,” she said. “She’s in the final so anything can happen. It looks like she has improved a lot. It will be a tough match so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Azarenka clinched her first major title here last year and will need to retain the trophy to prevent Serena Williams from claiming her number one world ranking.

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