Australian Open 2013 women's semi-final preview

Sloane Stephens (credit: Mark Kolbe/AFP/Getty Images)
The semi-final line-up for the women's singles at the 2013 Australian Open is now known, with Maria Sharapova, Na Li, Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens all battling for a place in this weekend's final.

Following the shock exit of Serena Williams, this year's Australian Open draw has been blown wide open. All four of the remaining participants bring something a little different to the table, and all four are genuine contenders.

Our first semi-final on Thursday sees Sharapova take on Li. Sharapova has won this event before and finished as the runner-up last season. Li is a former runner-up and a former French Open champion. There’s no doubting that these two both have what it takes to succeed at the highest level.

Sharapova has the momentum heading into this contest. She’s on a three-match winning streak against Li following three big victories in 2012. That said, Li has found some much-needed consistency of late and appears to be a real threat.

In our second semi-final, Azarenka will take on American teenager Stephens, who recorded the upset of the tournament so far, sending Serena out of the competition.

The youngster has made a very bright start to 2013 and the sky is the limit for her right now.

It remains to be seen if Stephens has it in her to beat the world No. 1 though. Serena had been struggling with back and ankle problems in the quarter-finals, and had beaten Stephens in straight sets only a few weeks earlier. Vika is also in great form at the moment too. After getting past the tricky Svetlana Kuznetsova she’ll be eager to complete her title defence.
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Australian Open 2013 women's semi-final preview

The semi-final line-up for the women's singles at the 2013 Australian Open is now known, with Maria Sharapova, Na Li, Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens all battling for a place in this weekend's final.

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