Azarenka could face three Top 5 players in Melbourne

Jan. 10, 2014 at 8:41 AM
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MELBOURNE, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Three Top 5 players are potentially ahead for Victoria Azarenka in her quest for a third consecutive Australian Open title.

The year's first major tennis tournament begins Monday. The women's single final is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Azarenka is looking to be the tournament's first winner of three consecutive women's singles titles since Martina Hingis took championships from 1997-99. Since then, eight women have won the tournament, with top-ranked Serena Williams winning five times.

Jennifer Capriati (2001-02) and Azarenka are the only other multiple winners in that span.

If the tournament plays out according to the seedings, Azarenka would go against fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarters, No. 3-ranked Maria Sharapova (the 2008 champion) in the semifinals and Williams in the title match.

Williams could face fourth-seeded Li Na, who Azarenka defeated in last year's Australian Open final, in the semifinals.

Radwanska would possibly have to beat 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki to get to Azarenka in the quarters while Sharapova's route to the quarterfinals has a potential match-up against eighth-seeded Jelena Jankovic.

Williams, of course, leads the field. She is looking to join Nancye Wynne Bolton as a six-time winner in Melbourne. Only Margaret Smith Court, who won 11 times from 1960-73, has more women's singles Australian Open titles.

Williams has seventh-seeded Sara Errani in her quarter of the draw, with Li topping the other section in that half of the draw. No. 8-ranked Petra Kvitova and ninth-seeded Angelique Kerber could meet for the right to play Li in the quarterfinals.

Also in that quarter is Venus Williams, which sets up a potential semifinal match between the Williams sisters.

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