Azarenka holds off injured Hampton to advance

Azarenka holds off injured Hampton to advance
January 18, 2013, 9:43 pm
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Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during his third round round match against Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Defending champion Victoria Azarenka struggled to hold off injured American Jamie Hampton 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on Saturday before advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Hampton, who needed a medical timeout for a lower back problem before she served out the second set and winced in pain, frequently on the verge of tears, throughout the third, still managed to hit 41 winners.

Top-ranked Azarenka appeared frustrated at times but overcame an early break and fended off triple break point in the seventh game of the deciding set.

She said Hampton ``played incredible,'' adding, ``She took a medical timeout but she rips winners all over the place and I was like, `Can I have a back problem?' I'm feeling great, but I'm missing every shot.''