| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo credit: Kenneth B. Goldberg

World number one-ranked Victoria Azarenka was able to hold off American teenager Sloane Stephens to reach the 2013 Australian Open finals, 6-1, 6-4. The top-seeded Azarenka asked for a medical timeout after wasting five match points with a sequence of forehand errors, but returned to quickly finish off her win on her sixth match point. After dropping serve in the ninth game of the second set, Azarenka went to the locker room for treatment for left knee and rib injuries and then returned to break the 29th-seeded Stephens' serve to finish off the match.

"I did my best - I obviously didn't get the win, but I did everything I could and came up a little bit short," Stephens said. "These last three weeks I've done the best I could on court. I tried my best and just left it all out there. It is what it is - I think I've done a pretty amazing job after not playing as much tennis as I would have liked to the months before. And I have a lot of momentum. All in all, it's okay."

Stephens had never been past the fourth round of a Grand Slam before this fortnight, and with this semifinal run she will break into the top 20 for the first time when the new WTA Women's Singles Rankings are out.

"I'm really hungry to defend my title, that was my first goal—actually, not to defend, it was to win the tournament," said Azarenka. "I've put myself in the position to give it the best shot there is, being in the final."

Awaiting the defending champ Azarenka in the finals is China's Li Na, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over second-seeded Maria Sharapova.