Live Commentary: Australian Open semi-finals: Victoria Azarenka vs. Sloane Stephens - as it happened

Victoria Azarenka from Belarus stretches for the ball in her fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship on January 21, 2013
© AP Photos
Live text commentary of the second women's semi-final between Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens.

Defending Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka faced Sloane Stephens in the second women's semi-final.

The Belarusian dominated the opening set to take it 6-1, thanks to some very accurate hitting, although her opponent was slow out of the blocks.

In the second set neither player seemed able to hold serve and Azarenka finally wrapped it up 6-4 following a 10-minute medical timeout.

She moves on to face Li Na in Saturday's final.

See below for how the action unfolded with Sports Mole's live commentary.


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4.36amHello and welcome to the second semi-final of the day between Azarenka and Stephens.

4.38amThis is the first time these two have met, so it's an intriguing match-up. Although you would expect the defending champion to get through here.

4.41amThe warm-ups are nearly at an end.

4.42amThe youngster seems to have a good head on her shoulders. Read what she said after the victory over Williams here.

4.44amHere we go then, Stephens to serve..

Azarenka *1-0 StephensBREAK! From a fairly comfortable position at 40-15, Stephens is pegged back and Azarenka takes the break at the first time of asking.

Azarenka 2-0* StephensThe Belarusian comprehensively holds her own service game to love and consolidates the break. Very tough start for the American and it's already a long way back into this one after just six minutes.

4.50amBetter from Stephens as the moves 30-0 up, although both were Azarenka errors.

4.52amAgain from 40-15 up Stephens is pegged back to deuce. She doesn't seem to have the same intensity as against Serena.

Azarenka *2-1 StephensAnother gruelling service game but this time it ends in success for Stephens. She's got a game on the board and that will be a boost to her.

4.57amIt was an absolutely superb backhand cross-court pass to win the game, too.

4.59amHere's a divisive subject: the emotional state of women. Well, women tennis players. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has had his say. Warning: controversial.

Azarenka 3-1* StephensAzarenka holds comfortably again and Stephens will have to start getting into her serve a little.

5.05amExcellent from Azarenka, who dictates the point before setting up a break point with a big forehand winner.

Azarenka *4-1 StephensBREAK! Stephens's serve again goes to deuce, but this time it ends the way of the Belarusian after Stephens goes centimetres long with a backhand.

5.11amStephens hasn't been as good as against Williams. It's 17 unforced errors already, to Azarenka's seven.

Azarenka 5-1* StephensShe is getting stuck into the Azarenka serve a little bit, especially when coming to the net, but the Belarusian does enough to hold to 30 and move a game away from the first set.

5.16amAzarenka races into a 0-40 lead and sets up three set points.

Azarenka *6-1 StephensSET! It looks to be a step too far for the young American. Azarenka is still in a very low gear, but seals the set with a quite marvellous lob.

5.19amIt's been all to easy for the Belarusian thus far. She's been consistently good. Not spectacular, but consistent. And that's important at this stage of Slams.

Azarenka 6-1 1-0* StephensRoutine hold from Azarenka to start the second set. One mistake by going long with a backhand, but otherwise very little Stephens resistance.

5.25amStephens showing some fight here, she claws back from 15-40 to deuce with a really good net point.

Azarenka 6-1 *2-0 StephensBREAK! Azarenka using her experience now. Stephens does fight back really well but the Belarusian grabs another break and puts another nail in the Stephens coffin.

5.31amStephens finds some good shots to go 15-30 up, but Azarenka swats away the danger with a good advancement to the net.

Azarenka 6-1 2-1* StephensBREAK! Very high success rate from Stephens at the net and she sets up a first break point with a good approach. A booming forehand later and she's back on serve! Excellent from the American.

5.34amJust as it looked to be getting away from her, Stephens has a glimmer of hope. She attacked the Azarenka serve early in that point. If she can combine aggression with intelligent net play then we might have a match on our hands.

5.35amOf course it's vital she hold serve now. A good start - she sends the now limping Azarenka around the court for 15-0.

5.36amGood response from Azarenka, who levels the game with a neat volley.

Azarenka 6-1 *2-2 StephensThat's a long overdue comfortable hold from Stephens, I think the first of the match. She won it to 30, but Azarenka was never really in that game. The Belarusian is visibly struggling here with injury. It can't happen again, surely?

5.41amAzarenka in trouble, but she responds with that running forehand down the line for 40-30.

Azarenka 6-1 3-2* StephensIt's an important hold for Azarenka. She was down in the game and could have been facing a break, but she remained strong to put the pressure back on Stephens.

5.45amStephens goes wide with a simple forehand and it's three break points...

Azarenka 6-1 *4-2 StephensBREAK! It's a break to love and a big time for it. The injury must be behind her now, as she fair dominated that game. You can't look beyond her now.

5.48amA double fault gets Stephens back in this game at 30-30. Just a look-in for a break back for the American.

5.50amStephens finally unleashes her forehand as she smashes a cross-court winner for a break point.

Azarenka 6-1 4-3* StephensBREAK! Azarenka serves her fourth double fault of the set and Stephens takes full advantage. Well, Azarenka implodes, goes wide with the forehand and the American has broken back. She's keeping herself in this one.

5.56amStephens slaps a smash long with the first point, but levels well at 15-15.

Azarenka 6-1 *5-3 StephensBREAK! Neither player able to hold serve at the moment. Azarenka defends brilliantly before Stephens goes long and is broken for the sixth time in the match. Now Azarenka will serve for a place in the final.

6amThere's life in the American yet. She drives to the net to plant a big forehand winner. Azarenka responds with an ace.

6.02amTwo match points go begging for Azarenka and we're at deuce.

6.04amAzarenka follows a grunt with a high-pitched squeal as another match point goes astray.

6.05amNow the Belarusian goes wide and it's break point instead..

6.08amStephens saves the fifth match point and gets another break point with an unbelievable backhand pass.

Azarenka 6-1 5-4* StephensBREAK! After more than 12 minutes the game ends and it's been a long while since a hold of serve. Stephens breaks with a thunderous forehand down the line - we've not seen that shot enough so far.

6.13amThe trainer is on for Azarenka. There's life in this one if Stephens can hold. She's the picture of calm on her bench.

6.16amThere's nothing to lose for Stephens. All the pressure is now on Azarenka.

6.17amStephens will move up to 13th in the world if she wins this. Lose, and it's 17th. Either way her Australian Open will go down as a huge success.

6.20amThe timeout lasted nearly 10 minutes. But we're back ready and Stephens serves.

6.21amDouble fault from Stephens, just her second of the match.

6.23amNothing to choose between the two in this game. It's point for point and deuce after Azarenka runs Stephens all over the court on defence.

Azarenka 6-1 6-4 StephensGAME, SET AND MATCH! It's another break and this time it has the most costly outcome for Stephens. On her sixth match point Azarenka somehow stays in the point and Stephens hits long. Azarenka finally ends Stephens's run and makes the final to face Li Na.

6.26amSo the women's final is decided, Li vs. defending champ Azarenka. That one will be incredibly close.

6.27amThat's all from me today. Please tune in at around 8am when we will bring you coverage of the first men's semi - Novak Djokovic vs. David Ferrer. Goodbye!

China's Li Na hits a backhand return in her semifinal match against Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open tennis championship on January 24, 2013
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