Sharapova and Azarenka fight for title and right to be crowned princess of wails

 

Play was stopped midway through the semi-final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal here last night as fireworks exploded in the sky as part of the city's Australia Day celebrations. Earlier in the afternoon, players had to cope with the noise of the Roulettes, the Royal Australian Air Force's equivalent of the Red Arrows, speeding back and forth above Melbourne Park.

Another assault on the eardrums can be expected here tomorrow when Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, the two most notorious shriekers and wailers in the women's game, meet in the final of the Australian Open. The 24-year-old Russian and the 22-year-old Belarusian earned their chance of a shot at the title and the world No 1 ranking that will come with it thanks to hard-earned victories in the semi-finals yesterday. Sharapova beat Petra Kvitova 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 to avenge her defeat in last year's Wimbledon final, while Azarenka beat Kim Clijsters 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in what could prove to be the Belgian's last appearance here.

If the players' grunting has been a major subject of debate among both spectators and the media over the last 10 days, the focus yesterday was on the excellence of the tennis. Both semi-finals were full of drama and shot-making of the highest quality, while the delight on the two finalists' faces was evident.

 



For Sharapova, getting to the final marks another peak scaled on her quest to reconquer the highest mountains following her comeback from shoulder surgery, the legacy of which is still evident. The Russian, who was forced to remodel her serve, hit 10 double faults against Kvitova.

Victory tomorrow would be particularly significant given that Sharapova claimed the last of her three Grand Slam titles here in 2008, when she won without dropping a set, beating four past, current or future world No 1s along the way.

Grand Slam tournaments have not always been the happiest of occasions for Azarenka, who despite being talked about as a potential champion for several years had just one semi-final appearance to show for her 24 previous appearances.

Azarenka believes that working on her strength and stamina this winter has brought both physical and mental improvements. "It was a huge push for me, definitely one of the biggest things I've done," she said. "It helped me mentally to know that I can handle it. I can play for as long as I need."

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea