Fearless. That is my description of Sloane Stephens in her win over Serena Williams in the 2013 Australian Open final. Add in mature and tennis smart as well. This might be the birth of a new star in the tennis firmament. Yes, Serena was hobbled, but A) no excuses and B) by midway through the final set Serena was ripping winners without complaint. So all credit to Sloane. Is this the passing of the torch? Well…not yet. While it’s true that Serena had never previously lost to an American player younger than her, it takes more than one win in a quarterfinal to make Sloane the new tennis queen. Remember the run Melanie Oudin had at the US Open a few years ago? So let’s see where Stephens goes from here. I suspect, and hope, that she is destined for multiple Majors. But she has to do it first.
And standing in Sloane’s way is the defending Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka. Vika took care of Svetlana Kuznetsova and will not be an easy mark. In fact, despite Sloane’s impressive win over Serena, I have to make Vika the favorite. But Stephens fooled us all once. Can she do it again?
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VICTORIA AZARENKA def. Svetlana Kuznetsova, 7-5 6-1
SLOANE STEPHENS def. Serena Williams, 3-6 7-5 6-4