Azarenka to end Australian Open run of courageous Clijsters

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Kim Clijsters has shown great courageousness to reach the semi finals in attempting to defend her Australian Open title, but her efforts look to be in vain now that she will face Victoria Azarenka.

Clijsters has been a wounded warrior in the past fortnight, battling through a hip injury prior to arriving in Melbourne and now a damaged left ankle that is requiring regular ice treatment.

But the Belgian has refused to give in, saving four match points when overcoming Na Li in the fourth round and then seeing off top seed Caroline Wozniacki to reach the semi finals.

Up next though is perhaps her biggest challenge of all against an in-form and highly confident Azarenka.

The Belarusian’s barrage of powerful shots deep towards the baseline have been an onslaught that has been hard to live with in Melbourne so far and Clijsters may be next to struggle to cope.

Despite never having reached a Grand Slam final before, Azarenka is the 4/5 favourite in the Australian Open odds to triumph and move into a final with either Maria Sharapova or Petra Kvitova.

But this seems justified given the comfortable progress she has made to this stage and the fact that she beat Clijsters in their most recent encounter in Miami last year.

On this occasion Azarenka emerged victorious in straight sets and 2/1 seems decent value that this is achieved again.

Punters fancying Clijsters to continue to defy her injury troubles can back her at 1/1 to prevail and if shrugging off her concerns then she has every chance given that the pair are particularly evenly matched.

Clijsters will need to show variation and mix up her game to beat Azarenka and may witness the best results if taking speed of the ball rather than getting involved in power rallies from the baseline.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.