Australian Open 2014: Victoria Azarenka and Sloan Stephens set to do their talking on the court in repeat of controversial semi-final

Stephens was fighting back last year when Azarenka took a medical time-out which some suggested was tactical in order to break her opponents rhythm

Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens will do their talking on the court as they prepare to meet for the first time since last year's infamous Australian Open semi-final.

Stephens, then a teenager, was playing in her first grand slam semi-final and had just saved five match points to get the second set back on serve.

Azarenka chose that moment to take a long medical time-out before breaking the Stephens serve to clinch victory.

In her on-court interview after the match, Azarenka joked she had nearly committed "the choke of the year", implying the break was tactical.

She later insisted she had been misunderstood and in fact had been struggling with a locked rib that made it difficult for her to breathe.

Azarenka went on to win the final against Li Na to collect her second straight Australian Open crown despite the crowd heavily supporting the Chinese player.

As soon as the draw was made for this year's tournament, a fourth-round rematch was anticipated, but neither player was prepared really to address the subject.

Azarenka, who thrashed Yvonne Meusburger 6-1 6-0, said: "I have great memories of last year. That's all I keep for me.

"Sloane is a great player, a very tough competitor. She has a great record here. I feel like she's improved so much. So I'm excited about the match. It's going to be tough.

"We left it all last year here, and that's what is important for me, is to play another match."

Azarenka has praised the Australian fans at every opportunity, but asked what she could learn from last year, the second seed said: "What is there to learn?

"It was just a great experience for me to be playing in the final and winning the title. That's what I learned, I guess, how to win the second grand slam."

Stephens, 20, has made at least the fourth round at five successive grand slams and booked her place in the second week once more with a 7-5 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina.

On last year's controversy, she said: "That has nothing to do with this year. I don't even remember half the stuff that happened.

"It's a new match. It will be Monday, hopefully on the big court. It will be exciting.

"I know what I have to do. I have to play my game and focus on myself and focus on what I do best."

Elsewhere, Maria Sharapova struggled on but Caroline Wozniacki suffered yet another early exit at a grand slam.

Denmark's former world number one was beaten 4-6 7-5 6-3 by fast-improving young Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.

It meant that for an eighth successive slam Wozniacki has gone out before the quarter-finals, and she has reached the second week just once in that time.

Wozniacki led in the second set, and she said: "Sometimes it happens, you just don't take your chances.

"I don't think I did anything particularly wrong. I thought she played some great tennis as well. It was just a bit unlucky."

Sharapova needed almost three and a half hours to see off Karin Knapp in extreme heat on Thursday, and she wobbled again in the second set against Alize Cornet before pulling through 6-1 7-6 (8/6).

The third seed was so unhappy with her lack of rhythm that she hit the practice courts straight after her match.

Sharapova missed the last three months of 2013 with a shoulder problem, and she said: "I still feel like in certain situations I am a bit rusty and I'm not closing it out when I have to, or maybe going for a little much or over-thinking it a bit.

"That will come. I'm not worried about that. As long as I feel like I'm doing the right things and I'm playing the way I want to play, if I'm making those types of errors, they are going to go in eventually."

Sharapova next plays 20th seed Dominika Cibulkova while Muguruza will face fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who battled past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Eighth seed Jelena Jankovic and 11th seed Simona Halep were both straight-sets winners and will play each other in the last 16.

The fourth round begins on Sunday, with world number one Serena Williams facing Ana Ivanovic while fourth seed Li takes on Ekaterina Makarova.

PA

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat