The Norman Transcript

Sports

January 25, 2013

Azarenka eludes chokehold against Stephens, gains Australian final berth

MELBOURNE, Australia — Sloane Stephens sat for nine minutes, mostly staring at the court and trying to forget the curious timing of Victoria Azarenka’s medical timeout. She may have been the only one trying to ignore it.

The 19-year-old American had just saved five match points and broken Azarenka. But she knew she had to hold serve to stay in her first Grand Slam semifinal whenever Azarenka — the No. 1 player and defending Australian Open champion — returned to Rod Laver Arena.

The restless murmuring in the crowd gave way to slow claps.

Azarenka eventually hustled onto the court, and Stephens won only three more points, losing 6-1, 6-4.

“I almost did the choke of the year,” Azarenka said in a frank admission during an on-court interview. “At 5-3, having so many chances, I couldn’t close it out.”

She’ll face 2011 finalist Li Na in the final Saturday night. Given the support Li enjoyed in her 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova.

Azarenka’s immediate post-match remarks suggest she panicked after failing to convert five match points, her forehand misfiring. She had little trouble finishing the match after she came back, and the No. 29-seeded Stephens had cooled off.

“I just felt a little bit overwhelmed. I realized I’m one step away from the final and nerves got into me for sure,” Azarenka said.

The 23-year-old Belarusian said she was later compelled to explain that she misunderstood the question in the on-court interview, and she wanted to dispel the perception that her medical timeout amounted to little more than gamesmanship.

“I understand the point of people maybe not understanding what I said; me not understanding what I’ve been asked,” she said during an official news conference.

Medical staff said Azarenka had timeouts for treatment of left knee and rib injuries. The rib needed to be manipulated because it was affecting her breathing. Tournament director Craig Tiley said Azarenka hadn’t broken any rules.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • OU V Texas Casey sparks Sooners at the plate against Longhorns

    Oklahoma put runners in scoring position all night, but midway through Thursday’s series opener against Texas, the Sooners couldn’t do much with them. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, they had stranded a handful of runners, including ...

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tigers take series with Timberwolves

    Heather Jones made her final Crosstown Clash contest a game to remember....

    April 18, 2014

  • Shannon won’t face criminal charges

    Oklahoma linebacker Frank Shannon will not face criminal charges for an alleged sexual assault. Any punishment he receives will be through the University....

    April 18, 2014

  • Offense disappears in shutout loss to Mountaineers

    Everything Oklahoma did Thursday night looked rushed. It fell behind quickly, hacked at pitches early in counts and even recorded outs in a time-efficient manner....

    April 18, 2014

  • North girls escape with win over ESF

    EDMOND — Ranked No. 5 in the state and the winners of six straight games, three of them over top 10 teams, the Norman North girls looked every bit the dominant team Thursday night at Edmond Santa Fe … right up until they flirted with ...

    April 18, 2014

  • OU womens gym Sooners eager for title shot

    After fighting all season long to stay near the top of the women’s gymnastics rankings, the time has come for Oklahoma to show it belongs there. The NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships kick-off at 1 p.m. today and the second ranked ...

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fieger leads Senior PGA

    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Gene Fieger shot a 3-under 69 in windy conditions Thursday to take a four-stroke lead in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship....

    April 18, 2014

  • Kuchar builds on momentum

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — There were no major letdowns for Masters contenders Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage on Thursday. Kuchar, who tied for fifth at Augusta National, shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 to share the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

    DULUTH, Ga. — Miguel Angel Jimenez’s starring role in the best Masters ever for players 50 and over was the perfect lead-in for his Champions Tour debut....

    April 18, 2014

  • Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — Yasiel Puig believes he has the support from his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates and the club to help him keep his focus on baseball despite challenges off the field....

    April 18, 2014

Facebook