Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2014 Contents A53
January 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Stephens believes she s
changed a lot in the year since
her Australian Open semifinal
loss to Victoria Azarenka---a
match that became clouded in
controversy when the Belaruss-
ian took a medical timeout after
wasting five match points, halt-
ing Stephens momentum.
Stephens said she doesn t get
flustered as easily now and she s
not overwhelmed by matches
on the big stages. She s also
learning to focus on herself and
tune out distractions on the
other side of the net.
In short, she s ready for a
rematch against Azarenka.
The second-seeded Azarenka
and 13th-seeded Stephens set
up a meeting in the fourth round
at this year s Australian Open
with straight-set wins yester-
Azarenka, the two-time
defending champion, needed
just an hour to dispatch Austrian
Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-0,
while Stephens had a more chal-
lenging time in her 7-5, 6-4 win
over Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
The two haven t played since
last year s contentious semifinal.
Stephens characterised their off-
court relationship as "nonexis-
While last year s match was
not particularly close --- Azaren-
ka won it 6-1, 6-4 --- it certainly
didn t lack for drama. Azarenka
was serving for the match at 5-
3 in the second set when
Stephens saved five match points
and broke serve, prompting a
clearly flustered Azarenka to call
a medical timeout. She returned
after nine minutes and promptly
finished off the match.
Azarenka said in an on-court
interview that she almost com-
mitted the "choke of the year."
Although she later said she mis-
understood the question about
the timeout. The medical staff
reported that the timeout was
to treat Azarenka s left knee
and rib injuries, not her breath-
Neither Stephens nor
Azarenka wanted to revisit the
subject after their third-round
matches on Saturday.
Azarenka has won all three
of her matches at this year s
Australian Open in straight sets,
though she was tested by Swe-
den s Johanna Larsson in the
first round. She knows she will
have to lift her game against a
vastly improved Stephens, who
has cracked the top 15 in the
rankings and hired Roger Fed-
erer s former coach, Paul Anna-
Stephens made it to the
fourth round or better at all
four majors last year---joining
Serena Williams and Agnieszka
Radwanska as the only women s
players to do that. (AP)
set up rematch
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus makes a forehand return to Yvonne Meusburger of Austria
during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne,
Australia, yesterday. Azarenka won 6-1, 6-0. AP PHOTO
Sloane Stephens of the US serves to Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine
during their third round match. Stephens won 7-5, 6-4.
Jankovic cracks jokes at Australian Open
MELBOURNE---After her third
consecutive win over a Japanese
opponent, Jelena Jankovic felt like
rattling off a few jokes about Japan.
It s like "I m playing the Japanese
Open. It s not the Aussie Open for
me," Jankovic laughed, when the
issue first came up during her on-
The former No 1-ranked Jankovic
beat Kurumi Nara 6-4, 7-5 in the
third round yesterday. It followed
her wins over Misaki Doi and Ayumi
"Of course, I m not going to get
a visa for Japan next time I have to
play there," Jankovic said, drawing
laughs from the crowd.
"I beat three Japanese in three
rounds. I m sorry Japan," Jankovic
said, without a hint of contrition.
"I look forward to playing some
other player from somewhere else
She faces Simona Halep of Roma-
nia in the next round.
Jankovic praised 74th-ranked
Nara, who was making her singles
debut at the Australian Open.
"Sometimes I think a point is
over and the ball is coming back,"
said Jankovic. "She s just so fast.
It s amazing how fast she is."
All the effort built up her appetite,
"It was not easy to get through,
maybe I can now go to have some
sushi," she laughed, before moving
on to poke a little fun at herself.
Asked what fans don t know
about her, the No 8-seeded Jankovic
said that her slicked back ponytail
was the result of a lot of hairspray.
"It s like cement," she said. "Peo-
ple think, Oh, your hair is so nice
and in order. But if you touch it you
probably break your fingers."
She also has a shoe fetish.
"I just built a huge closet," she
said, estimating she owns about a
hundred pairs. "It s like a big room
just to put all these shoes."
Jancovic s sense of humor has
ruffled some in the past, particularly
in 2010 after she beat Ana Ivanovic
at a tournament in Madrid and then
mocked her fellow Serb s motiva-
tional fist-pump. It was caught on
video and made waves, prompting
Jankovic to later describe her rela-
tionship with Ivanovic, the 2008
French Open winner, as a healthy
rivalry. Ivanovic has also advanced
to the fourth round in Melbourne.
Jankovic once seemed headed for
tennis stardom, a destiny she is still
trying to fulfill. She held the No. 1
ranking for 18 weeks in 2008, the
same year she was a runner-up at
the US Open.
"The only thing I need and I
would like in my career is to win a
Grand Slam," said Jankovic, striking
a serious note. "That s something
I m missing."
FROM SOCHI: Maria Sharapova
will trade her tennis racket for a
microphone in a few weeks to join
NBC for the Winter Olympics in
her childhood home.
"Everyone seems to think I will
be commentating on winter sports.
I m not a bobsledding expert,"
Sharapova told reporters. "I will
confirm I won t be commentating."
The four-time Grand Slam cham-
pion lived in Sochi until she was 6
and still has family and friends in
the area. She was Russia s flag-bear-
er at the opening ceremony of the
2012 London Olympics, where she
won a silver medal.
"I m going to be showcasing the
city of Sochi to a worldwide audi-
ence," she said. "I m going to be
with a few different co-hosts around
the city, in the village and then I m
going to be doing a few segments
in the studio."
The opening ceremony in Sochi
is February 7.
But first she ll focus on her tennis.
Sharpova beat Alize Cornet 6-1, 7-
6 (6) in the third round yesterday
and next faces No 20 Dominika
FRENCH FEAT: Nimble-toed
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did
three pirouettes and a flying leap
to celebrate his victory, a bittersweet
win over his friend Gilles Simon.
The two were among eight
Frenchman through to the third
round of the Australian Open,
equaling an Open era Grand Slam
record set at the 1971 French Open.
The No 10-seeded Tsonga
described his 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 win
over No 18 Simon as "a little war"
To set an Australian Open record
for the next round, four of the
Frenchmen needed to advance---but
only two made it through.
The other was 119th-ranked
Stephane Robert, who became the
first lucky loser to advance this far
at the tournament.
Less lucky were No 25 Gael Mon-
fils and No 27 Benoit Paire, both of
whom lost their third-round match-
Others exited in third-round
matches Friday: No 9 Richard Gas-
quet, No 29 Jerome Chardy and
A 2008 runner-up in Melbourne,
Tsonga is trying to win his first
Grand Slam title. First he needs to
first beat Roger Federer in the fourth
round, a rematch of last year s quar-
terfinal which Federer won.
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