Sport Tennis Cop that! Victoria Azarenka wins bodyline slugfest

Cop that! Victoria Azarenka wins bodyline slugfest

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Sloane Stephens could not recall drilling a ball straight at an opponent before.

But she insisted there was nothing significant in the fact she broke her duck in an Australian Open fourth-round clash against Victoria Azarenka on Monday that happened to be a repeat of last year’s controversial semi-final at Melbourne Park.

On that occasion, Azarenka was widely criticised for taking a medical time-out late in a straight-sets victory, a decision she initially defended by saying she needed to “calm down”.

Monday’s 6-3 6-2 victory by Azarenka had no equivalent flashpoint, although Stephens did belt a shot straight into the Belarusian’s groin midway through the first set.

“I’ve never hit anyone in a match so I wouldn’t say it was a pegging war,” Stephens said.

“I thought she was going to move and she didn’t.”

Stephens got the chance to repeat the aggressive strike a couple of games later but instead chose to try to pass Azarenka down the line, allowing the two-time defending champion to belt the ball back at the American and win the point.

Azarenka appeared to ignore Stephens’ on-court apology for the first incident, although she insisted later it was no big deal.

“That’s tennis,” she said.

“I’m just focused on the next point.

“Maybe she had an open court, but she chose that shot.

“I have no problem with that.”