Just 24 hours after her upset win over Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens returns to face No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals.
Just 24 hours after their quarterfinals matches, Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka will meet in the second women's semifinal on Day 11 at the 2013 Australian Open. Stephens' upset of Serena Williams was the highlight of the quarterfinals stage, but she has little time to enjoy the potentially career-catapulting win as No. 1 Azarenka comes calling.
Stephens, still a teenager, has steadily improved at each major, and she had encountered relatively little trouble through the first four rounds in Melbourne. But her stay was supposed to end in the quarters, facing her idol in Serena. Williams, however, was bothered by back spasms, and Stephens took advantage by winning the last two sets to pull off the upset.
Stephens was exuberant after the upset win, but now she re-focuses on Azarenka, who has lost only one set in her first five matches and has to be relieved to avoid Serena in the semis. Azarenka is the defending champ at the Aussie Open, as last year she became the first Belarusian to win a Grand Slam singles title. It's her first and only major, but she will still be a significant favorite against Stephens.
A win for Stephens could cast aside any notion that it's an incremental process where she is slowly supposed to work her way deeper into Slams as her young career progresses. Wins over Serena and Azarenka on consecutive days, and a date in the Aussie Open finals, would likely solidify her arrival near the top of women's tennis.
With no day off in between matches, Azarenka-Stephens will be the second women's semifinal played on Day 11. It's the final match of the day session at Laver Arena, and should start around midnight in the eastern United States. The first semifinal between Li Na and Maria Sharapova will not start before 9:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday night. The Tennis Channel will start the TV coverage at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday night before ESPN2 takes over at 9:30 p.m. ET for the broadcast of the two women's semifinals.