Rafael Nadal avoids top player exodus from Australian Open

Jan 22 2014, 17:36 IST
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SummaryRafael Nadal avoided the top player exodus that claimed two-time defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka in the preceding match on center court with a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-2 win over Grigor Dimitrov in the Australian Open quarterfinals Wednesday.

shattered. I came out expecting nothing less than to win.''

Azarenka's defeat left 2011 French Open champion Li Na as the only major winner remaining in the women's draw. Radwanska next plays No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova, who won the last eight games in a one-hour, 6-3, 6-0 quarterfinal rout of No. 11-seeded Simona Halep earlier Wednesday.

Li, a two-time finalist in Australia, will play 19-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in the other semifinal.

Radwanska played drop shots and slices from the baseline, forcing Azarenka to come forward and then lobbing or passing her. She hit touch volleys with calm precision, and instinctively anticipated Azarenka's shots.

"She was aggressive. She was making everything. She was guessing right,'' Azarenka said. "I was just playing a little bit too predictably.

Radwanska was also safe on her own serve, dropping just two games while breaking Azarenka six times. She hadn't beaten Azarenka in their last seven matches.

"I said to myself one day I have to have one step forward and do the semifinal, and I'm so, so happy that I did it finally,'' Radwanska said.

Azarenka was booed late in the match when she smashed a ball into the back of the court after another one of her 47 unforced errors. She screamed loudly after losing big points to the incredibly consistent Radwanska, punched her thigh and her racket and even slapped the court with her hand. Nothing worked to change her fortunes.

"I'm not happy with what I did today, but on the court I felt like I could have played a lot better,'' Azarenka said. "I can't take away what she's done today. She played amazing.''

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