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Tennis

Victoria Azarenka tops Svetlana Kuznetsova at Aussie Open

Photo: Dita Alangkara/AP

No. 1 Victoria Azarenka will face No. 29 Sloane Stephens in the semifinals on Thursday in Melbourne.

Victoria Azarenka, with her most famous fan sitting in the crowd wearing a shirt reminding her to keep calm, overcame some early jitters to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1 in the Australian Open quarterfinals at Rod Laver Arena.

After dropping serve in a long fourth game that went to deuce 10 times, Azarenka recovered to dominate the rest of the match against Kuznetsova, a two-time major winner who was floating dangerously in the draw with a No. 75 ranking as she recovers from a knee injury. Azarenka will play No. 29 Sloane Stephens in Thursday's semifinals.

Azarenka's American rapper friend, Redfoo, returned from a concert in Malaysia to attend Wednesday's quarterfinal.

Wearing a red sleeveless T-shirt that read "Keep Calm and Bring Out the Bottles,'' the name of his next single, Redfoo stood, clapped and yelled "Come on, Vika!'' during the tight first set.

Asked if it helped to have her No. 1 fan wearing a keep calm logo, Azarenka said "I was looking more at the part that says `Bring out the bottles.'''

Of her game, she added, "I'm just glad I could produce my good tennis when it was needed.''

Serena Williams' loss was a boost for Azarenka, who lost all five head-to-heads against the American in 2012 and is 1-11 in their career meetings.

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