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Azarenka, Williams in possible semi match

Jan. 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM   |   Comments

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MELBOURNE, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka's road to repeating as Australian Open champion could include a semifinal match against third-ranked Serena Williams.

Azarenka defeated Maria Sharapova last January in winning her first Grand Slam title. It also boosted her to the world No. 1 ranking.

With Sharapova sitting in the No. 2 spot in the rankings, it was a given she and Azarenka would be in opposite ends of the 2013 Australian Open draw, which was made Friday. That left the attention on where Williams would be placed.

Williams has lost just three matches since she was beaten in the Round of 16 in the 2012 Australian Open. And since a stunning first-round loss at the French Open, Williams is 36-1, winning two major tournaments, the Olympics and the WTA finals. She opened 2013 by winning the title at Brisbane. In that run Williams has lost four sets.

That makes Williams the player to beat in Melbourne and, if the tournament plays to form, Azarenka will draw Williams in the semifinals.

Before that, potential matchups have Azarenka going against No. 7-seeded Sara Errani, 10th-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and No. 16 Roberta Vinci.

Williams has one other Top 10 player -- No. 8 Petra Kvitova -- in her quarter of the draw.

Sharapova's highest ranked potential semifinal opponent is No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, who Friday collected her second title of 2013 by winning the Apia International in Sydney.

If the tournament goes to form, Sharapova would play fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals. Radwanska has No. 6-ranked Li Na and ninth-seeded Samantha Stosur in her quarter of the draw.

There is the possibility of an all-Williams final. Venus Williams is seeded 25th and in Sharapova's half of the draw. Serena defeated Venus in three sets in the 2003 final and has won the Australian Open four times since then, most recently in 2010.

The 2013 Open begins Monday, with the women's singles final scheduled for Jan. 26.

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