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Azarenka Wins Australian in Bizarre Final

AP Photo

MELBOURNE, Australia -- She was oblivious to it all. To the birds chirping above her. The ball boys carrying flags as they walked by her. The caterers wheeling a cart. Half an hour before the women's final of the Australian Open, Victoria Azarenka stood alone in the tunnels of Rod Laver Arena. She was in her "Vika shell," as she's called it, alone with her thoughts.

It had been a few days since she'd had much solitude. But now, finally, she was gathering herself. She could barely nod when her coach and trainer spoke to her. With a hooded sweatshirt shrouding her face and ear buds firmly in place, she stretched her legs and rolled her head and jumped up and down. She looked less like a tennis player than a fighter preparing for battle. Which, in a sense, she was.

When...

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