World No.1 Victoria Azarenka is confident any adverse crowd reaction to her controversial Australian Open semi-final win won’t put her off her game during Saturday night’s final against China’s Li Na.
The Belarussian reigning champion was heavily criticised for using a medical time-out after squandering five match points in the penultimate game of her semi-final win over American teenager Sloane Stephens.
But Azarenka, who maintains the break was for genuine medical reasons rather than to calm her frazzled nerves, says if the Melbourne Park crowd responds on Saturday night by acting as a cheer squad for her Chinese opponent, she’ll cope.
“I’m there to play tennis, like I always do,” Azarenka said.
“I can’t control what people are going to do.
“What I can control is try to be myself.”
Azarenka is well-practised at blocking out unwanted crowd noise, given she never seems flustered by the regular mimicking by spectators of the shrieks she makes while playing most of her shots.
Both women will be seeking their second major title.
Azarenka’s only previous grand slam singles trophy came when she beat Maria Sharapova in last year’s final at Melbourne Park.
Li, who lost to Kim Clijsters in the 2011 Australian Open final, won the French Open that year.
There is guaranteed to be one Australian claiming a trophy at their home grand slam on Australia Day.
Newly-crowned junior world No.1 Nick Kyrgios will take on good friend and frequent doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis in the boys’ singles final.