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Azarenka cruises into Brisbane semi-finals
By Laine Clark
20:00 AEST Thu Jan 3 2013

Normal service finally resumed at the Brisbane International on Thursday when world No.1 Victoria Azarenka cruised through her quarter-final.

The reigning Australian Open champion booked a potential semi-final showdown with Serena Williams with a crushing 6-1 6-0 win over Kazakh qualifier Ksenia Pervak in just over an hour.

Breaking Pervak's serve seven times, Azarenka defied the giant-killing trend at the season-opening tournament which had claimed six of the top eight seeds including world No.5 Angelique Kerber.

Fourth-seeded German Kerber went down 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3) in her quarter-final to Russian world No.36 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Thursday to ensure there will be at least one unseeded finalist.

Pervak opened the tournament with an upset win over former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.

But Azarenka ensured there were no more upsets on Thursday, taking just 68 minutes to thrash the qualifier.

Azarenka was hardly fazed by the prospect of taking on Williams, who has won 33 of her past 34 matches including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics and US Open.

And she did not have to be reminded of 15-time grand slam winner Williams' 11-1 record against Azarenka, including five wins in all of the matches they played in 2012.

"Well, it's a tough match - there is no question about it," Azarenka said of a potential showdown with the power-hitting American.

"I'm looking forward to it. There is one more chance for us to meet and it's going to be a great test for the Australian Open."

Meanwhile, Pavlyuchenkova - a Brisbane semi-finalist two years ago - set up a last-four clash with Ukrainian lucky loser Lesia Tsurenko.

Tsurenko, who replaced the injured world No.2 Maria Sharapova (collarbone), downed former world No.5 Daniela Hantuchova 6-3 6-4 in just over an hour-and-a-half on Thursday.

"For the first time in my life, I am a lucky loser and it's really surprising for me to take the spot of Maria Sharapova," Tsurenko said.

"I'm just enjoying now. That's my chance. I'm just taking it."


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