Australian Open LIVE: Elena Rybakina vs Victoria Azarenka latest updates after Novak Djokovic controversy

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Follow live updates from the Australian Open women’s semi-finals as Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina takes on two-time winner Victoria Azarenka in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena.

Rybakina has been in impressive form as the 23-year-old aims to win her second grand slam title in six months, defeating world No 1 Iga Swiatek to reach this stage. She now faces an experienced competitor in Azarenka, with the 33-year-old Belarusian player through to her first Australian Open semi-final since her last title in Melbourne Park 10 years ago.

It could be an all-Belarusian final on Saturday if the fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka defeats the unseeded Polish player Magda Linette in the other semi-final. Sabalenka has been in dominant form so far and is yet to drop a set so far this tournament, with Linette defeating Caroline Garcia and Karolina Pliskova to reach her first grand slam semi-final.

Elsewhere, further controversy is surrounding Novak Djokovic in Australia after his father, Srdjan Djokovic, was filmed posing for pictures with a group of Vladimir Putin supporters on Wednesday. Djokovic’s win over the Russian player Andrey Rublev was followed by a showing of support for Russia on the steps of the Rod Laver Arena.

Follow live updates and scores from the Australian Open below

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Australian Open 2023

Victoria Azarenka said it has taken her 10 years to get over the criticism she faced following her last Australian Open semi-final after finally making it back to the last four.

The Belarusian defeated Jessica Pegula 6-4 6-1 in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park on Tuesday and is putting together her best run since winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

The second of those proved controversial, with Azarenka taking a long medical time-out after failing to serve out a semi-final win over Sloane Stephens, who was then only 19.

Azarenka broke in the next game to clinch victory and told the crowd: “I almost did the choke of the year. I just felt a little bit overwhelmed realising that I’m one step from the final and nerves got into me for sure.”

Azarenka later said she had pain in her chest and took the medical time-out for that reason but she faced a barrage of criticism for her actions before going on to defeat Li Na in the final.

Asked about the incident, a fired-up Azarenka said: “It was one of the worst things that I’ve ever gone through in my professional career, the way I was treated after that moment, the way I had to explain myself until 10.30pm at night because people didn’t want to believe me.

“There is sometimes, I don’t know, an incredible desire for a villain and a hero story that has to be written. But we’re not villains, we’re not heroes, we are regular human beings that go through so many, many things.

“Assumptions and judgments, all those comments, are just s**t because nobody’s there to see the full story. It didn’t matter how many times I said my story, it did not cut through.

“I was thinking about it. It took me 10 f***ing years to get over it. I finally am over that.”

Victoria Azarenka defeated Jessica Pegula in the Australian Open quarter-finals (Ng Han Guan/AP)

(AP)

Jamie Braidwood26 January 2023 08:25

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Australian Open 2023

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina feels she is reaping the benefits of experience as she chases a second grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The 23-year-old continued her fine form at Melbourne Park with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Jelena Ostapenko to reach the semi-finals.

As expected between two of the biggest hitters on the women’s tour, this was first-strike tennis, with nearly three-quarters of the points being decided in four sets shots or fewer.

But Rybakina was the steadier while her serve, the best in the women’s game following Serena Williams’ retirement, yielded 11 aces and was a key difference between them.

Rybakina was a surprise champion at the All England Club but it would not be a shock if she ended the fortnight lifting the trophy here, particularly with the conditions favouring flat hitters.

“I think of course I got all the experience at Wimbledon and it’s helping me now this time here in Australia and I know what to expect,” she said.

“I already did it once and of course I got confident that I can do it again. I did really good preparation with the team. I’m not really surprised with the results. I’m happy. I’m just hungry to work and improve more.”

(Getty Images)

Jamie Braidwood26 January 2023 08:21

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Australian Open 2023: Djokovic’s father filmed posing with Putin supporters

Srdjan Djokovic can be seen alongside a man holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it, in footage that emerged on YouTube.

The man was also wearing a t-shirt with the letter ‘Z’ on it, which has become known as the makeshift logo of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While Srdjan Djokovic poses for pictures, the man also appears to shout: “Long live Russia”.

They could be seen chanting in support of Russia, while the face of Putin was also visible alongside flags of Russia and Djokovic’s native Serbia.

Srdjan Djokovic’s encounter with the group while he was leaving the Rod Laver Arena has led to a statement from Tennis Australia reminding “players and their teams” of their responsibilities.

Jamie Braidwood26 January 2023 08:16

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Good morning

Follow live updates from the Australian Open women’s semi-finals as Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina takes on two-time winner Victoria Azarenka in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena.

Rybakina has been in impressive form as the 23-year-old aims to win her second grand slam title in six months, defeating world No 1 Iga Swiatek to reach this stage. She now faces an experienced competitor in Azarenka, with the 33-year-old Belarusian player through to her first Australian Open semi-final since her last title in Melbourne Park 10 years ago.

It could be an all-Belarusian final on Saturday if the fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka defeats the unseeded Polish player Magda Linette in the other semi-final. Sabalenka has been in dominant form so far and is yet to drop a set so far this tournament, with Linette defeating Caroline Garcia and Karolina Pliskova to reach her first grand slam semi-final.

Elsewhere, further controversy is surrounding Novak Djokovic in Australia after his father, Srdjan Djokovic, was filmed posing for pictures with a group of Vladimir Putin supporters on Wednesday. Djokovic’s win over the Russian player Andrey Rublev was followed by a showing of support for Russia on the steps of the Rod Laver Arena.

Jamie Braidwood26 January 2023 08:15

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