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Resilient Azarenka Rises to Occasion

AP Photo

MELBOURNE, Australia -- It felt in some ways like a discordant, minor-key finish to a major. But the trophy is just as shiny.

 

World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka walked into Rod Laver Arena to defend her Australian Open title knowing the best she could expect from the crowd was ambivalence, thanks to the controversial medical timeout she took at a critical juncture in her semifinal against surging young American Sloane Stephens. Azarenka took a thrashing in social media and in the mainstream media as her motives were widely second-guessed.

 

Fans cheered her missed shots and double faults and greeted her winners tepidly while urging on underdog Li Na of China, who likely would have been their darling anyway thanks to the impressive game and improvisational...

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