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Azarenka to Defend Australian Open Finals Title

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Victoria Azarenka

Belarus’s Victoria Azarenka plays a return during her women’s singles semi-final match against Sloane Stephens of the US on the eleventh day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 24, 2013. (Credit: GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

(MELBOURNE, Australia) — Victoria Azarenka will have a chance to defend her title.

Azarenka defeated 19-year-old Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4 to advance to her second straight Australian Open Finals appearance.

While a straight set victory may sound like an easy win, it was far from it.

Azarenka couldn’t convert on five match points in the ninth game of the second set, prompting her to leave the court for a medical timeout because she couldn’t breathe.

“Well I almost did the choke of the year,” Azarenka said. “At 5-3 having so many chances I just couldn’t close it out. But I’m glad I could turn it around. I just felt a little overwhelmed realizing that I’m one step away from the Final. Nerves got into me for sure.”

The win sets Azarenka up for a showdown with six seeded Li Na. Li beat Maria Sharapova in the other semifinal to end up in the final match.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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