Stephens upsets Serena Williams to advance to Australian Open semis

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After the excitement of the first set in the first match on Rod Laver Arena between Victoria Azarenka and Svetlana Kuznetsova, everyone’s favourite to take the title Down Under, Serena Williams, came on court to play Sloane Stephens, the 29th seed and now the American number two. Serena was unbelievably quiet at the start, but held for 1-0. Her opponent was equally under control and served out to love and, although both players held, it was Stephens who served three love games to get to 3-3. Serena was not playing at her best and there were no fist pumps, grunts or come ons, but she got the break to lead 4-3 and she then went on to serve out the set at 6-3.

Serena broke Stephens in the first game of the second set and then held, for a run of five games in a row, but her young compatriot came back to take three games in a row to go up 3-2. Serena levelled at 3-3 but Stephens held. The drama started when Serena was serving with new balls and Stephens played a great drop shot which had Serena running at full tilt and she jarred her lower back trying not to touch the net. Stephens took the game to lead 5-3 when the trainer took Serena off court for a medical time out. On her return to the court Serena, clearly in a lot of pain, picked off her young opponent, who clearly showed her inexperience, with some precision hits to the lines, to break back to 4-5. Stephens regrouped and held for 6-5 and went on to serve out the set at 7-5. More drama on court, as Serena smashed her racquet and got a racquet abuse warning.

In the third set games went with serve until the 7th game, when Serena got the break, but Stephens broke right back for 4-4. She then held her service game and, with Serena missing on a good few points, managed to get the important break and take the decider 6-4 for the greatest win of her career. She will face Vika Azarenka in the semis.

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