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Azarenka Defends Herself Amid Criticism

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Azarenka Defends Herself Amid Criticism
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World number one Victoria Azarenka has defender herself against claims of bad gamesmanship in Thursday’s semifinal victory over Sloane Stephens.

The Belarussian has come in for widespread criticism after taking an injury time-out in the final set of the 6-1, 6-4, shortly after she had failed to convert five match points and been broken by the American to make it 5-3.

Azarenka initially claimed the time out was necessary due to breathing problems, but then later changed her story, stating she had a back problem. She is now likely to receive a frosty reception in the decider against Li Na and admitted she wasn’t sure how to handle it.

“It’s not easy, definitely, but it’s something that unfortunately I had to go through, and I will learn from it, and I will be much more careful to answer what people ask me next time,” she said.

“I expressed myself a lot yesterday; I did that again today to clarify things and make sure that everybody understood what really happened.

“To call a trainer happens to everybody; everybody does that. I had it done against me in my third round, but I never took it the wrong way.

“I would never do that to my opponent, to any opponent, especially a girl like Sloane, because we are friends off-court… I would never do anything bad intentionally. That’s not the kind of player I am.’’

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