MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Victoria Azarenka's tumultuous reign as the Australian Open's two-time champion ended Wednesday with a lot of shouting from her and some boos from the crowd.
Australian fans love their champions but dislike bad sportsmanship, and Azarenka has not been able to shake the notion that she committed the sin a year ago with a questionably timed medical timeout.
In 2013, the crowd booed Azarenka for taking what many considered to be a strategic, rather than an injury, timeout late in her semifinal against Sloane Stephens. They booed again Wednesday when she swatted a ball in frustration late in her quarterfinal loss to Agnieszka Radwanska.
The No. 2-seeded Azarenka vented her frustration throughout the match by screaming at errors, smacking her thigh and her racket and even slapping the court. It was a public unraveling on Rod Laver Arena, the same spot where the 22-year-old Belarussian became a two-time Grand Slam winner and achieved her career highlights.
The mood carried over into her post-match news conference, where Azarenka was asked about getting angry on the court.
"What?" Azarenka shot back. "She didn't make me angry."
Another question was about the message written in big letters on her T-shirt: "Just Deal With It."
Was that her attitude for moving past the loss?
"No. It's just a shirt."
Asked how long it takes to get over a loss like this, which ends her 18-match winning streak at Melbourne Park, she said: "I'll be fine tomorrow."
The performance offered a flashback to a younger Azarenka, who was more prone to public outbursts. One of the standouts was her fourth-round meltdown while playing Nadia Petrova at Wimbledon in 2009 in which she mimicked her own movements before sarcastically shaking a linesperson's hand and telling the chair umpire, "You guys have so much power to ruin the whole match."
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