Wizards

Azarenka advances to Australian Open semifinals

201301212011727073127-p2.jpeg

Azarenka advances to Australian Open semifinals

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) With her most famous fan sitting in the crowd wearing a shirt reminding her to keep calm, defending champion Victoria Azarenka overcame some early jitters to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1 on Wednesday and advance to the Australian Open semifinals.

After dropping serve in a long fourth game which 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 meet the winner of Wednesday's later quarterfinal between Serena Williams and 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens. Williams has lost only one match since a first-round exit at the French Open in a streak that included back-to-back major titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open as well as the Olympic gold medal and season-sending WTA Championship.

She beat Azarenka all five times they played last year, and is 11-1 in career head-to-heads against the 23-year-old Belarusian.

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

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, Azareka 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.''

In the men's quarterfinals, 17-time major winner Roger Federer was playing No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a night match and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray was to meet Jeremy Chardy of France.

Novak Djokovic is already through the semifinals after his 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych on Tuesday night.

The 2-hour, 31-minute victory took exactly half the time of his five-set, fourth-round win two nights previously against Stanislas Wawrinka.

``It was a great performance. I was hoping to have a shorter match ... just not to go over 5 hours,'' Djokovic said, in a comparatively subdued mood Tuesday after a considerably more routine victory. ``It's always going to be tough against Tomas; he's an established player. He has a big game, big serve. He can compete against anyone on any surface.''

In the semifinals, Djokovic will meet No. 4-seeded David Ferrer.

Ferrer survived a quarterfinal battle with fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. Almagro had three chances to serve for the match, but Ferrer broke back each time and went on to win 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Maria Sharapova had a 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal win over Ekatrina Makarova earlier Tuesday, and has conceded only nine games in five matches - a record in Australia.

``To be honest, those are not the stats you want to be known for,'' Sharapova said.

She'll play Li Na, who reached the semifinals for the third time in four years at Melbourne Park after beating Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3.

Quick Links

Remember Ramon Sessions? Wizards set bring back familiar face, sources confirm

Remember Ramon Sessions? Wizards set bring back familiar face, sources confirm

For the Wizards, with a tough stretch coming and with John Wall still sidelined, depth and health is of the utmost importance.

With the team set to begin the second half of the 2018 NBA season on Thursday night against the Cavaliers, Scott Brooks and company decided to make a move to shore up their backcourt depth, a commodity the team cannot have enough of.

Veteran guard Ramon Sessions, who spent the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons in Washington, D.C., has been signed by the Wizards to a ten-day contract, NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller confirms.

RELATED: NBCSW'S MIDSEASON NBA AWARDS

The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN . Sessions played in 110 games for the Wizards over the course of his two seasons, playing in all 82 games during the 2015-16 season.

He joins the Wizards again having been waived by the New York Knicks on Jan. 13. Sessions averaged 12.8 mpg in 13 games for the Knicks.

Sessions is rejoining a former team for the third time in his career, having played in Milwaukee and Charlotte on two separate occasions.

 

Quick Links

Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LeBron James, George Hill, Larry Nance, Jr. and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT (pre- and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington Plus)
Live stream: TNTdrama.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Back in action

The Wizards return to the court after a week-long layoff due to the All-Star break. Add in the fact that they had three days off before their last game and this will be just the second game for the Wizards in the last 12 days. What is this, football?

The Wizards will try to overcome the rust to keep their momentum going. They entered the All-Star break having won seven of their last nine games. Though the time off was needed due to a wide array of injuries, the Wizards had a good thing going and will aim to recapture that against a good Cavs team.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Tough stretch

The Wizards come back with a game against the Cavs, a difficult first assignment after such a long layoff. But this is just the beginning of what will be a very difficult part of their schedule. In their next 17 games, the Wizards will play 15 times against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Warriors, Celtics, Spurs and Raptors.

The schedule is tough beyond their opponents. Four times in the next three weeks they will play back-to-back games and they have five games in the next seven nights. Hopefully the players recharged their batteries because it won't be easy.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

New-look Cavs

The Wizards and Cavs have played twice this season already and Cleveland took both of those matchups. However, that was all before the trade deadline when the Cavs overhauled their roster. They have won all three of their games since and look rejuvenated with younger players.

Now surrounding LeBron James are a host of new faces like George HIll, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. It will be interesting to see how the Wizards match up with this new group.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS