Stephens's coach accuses Azarenka of 'cheating within the rules'

By Martin Smith, Yahoo!7 January 25, 2013, 1:01 pm

The coach of Sloane Stephens has accused Victoria Azarenka of "cheating within the rules" during the world No.1's controversial semi-final win at the Australian Open.

Azarenka has been criticised for unsportsmanlike behaviour during her victory over Stephens for calling a medical time out at a crucial juncture in the match.

Critics claim Azarenka wasn't injured and she called for the 10 minute break to regain her composure after failing to serve out the match.

Stephens's coach David Nainkin said Azarenka acted against the spirit of tennis.

"I thought it was very unfair - cheating within the rules," Nainkin told USA Today.

"It was unsportsmanlike. I don't think you should be able to leave the court before the opponent serves for 10 minutes for whatever reason.

"You'd better have something pretty good. I think there's a grey area in the rule book that shouldn't be allowed. End of story."

Attempting to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set, Azarenka blew five match points before losing her serve and calling a time out.After a delay of 10 minutes, the Belarusian returned to the court and broke Stephens's serve to win 6-1 6-4.In an on-court interview after the match, Azarenka said she had avoided "the choke of the year" and "felt a bit overwhelmed" after dropping her serve, prompting allegations that she called the time out despite not being injured.She later changed her story and maintained that she had received treatment for a back injury."It was a necessary thing for me to do," she said."I just regret that I didn't take it earlier, that it got to the point that it was pretty much impossible for me to breathe and to play."Azarenka said she had misunderstood the question when asked about her time out immediately after the match.Azarenka's initial response led to calls of gamesmanship from respected commentator Pam Shriver, while fellow ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe labelled it an "absolute travesty".Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on evidence from the doctor who treated Azarenka and the trainer who treated her, everything was above board."Certainly when these things happen and the trainers are called to the court the referee and myself we have a conversation," Tiley told 7 Sport."In this instance the doctor confirmed he did treat the rib, he did treat the knee and once he made that assessment she was able and ready to continue play."For her part, 19-year-old Stephens refused to criticise Azarenka."If it was one of my friends I would say, 'Oh my god that sounds like a PP,' which is a personal problem," Stephens said."I love Vika and we share the same agent. We actually are pretty good friends. I'm sure I will see her and we'll talk about it."I hope she wins the final, so I hope if that's the case she should figure it out, something, get it together."

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  1. 10:38am Sunday 27th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    So the cheating Azarenka wins! It will still be remembered in tennis history that she cheated in the semis. No justification can change that! End of story.

  2. loz111:31am Saturday 26th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Disgusted in Azarenka. If she cant play and win the game fair and square she does not deserve to win in her next match. Sloane Stephens was a better sportsman and handled it well for a 19 year old. Go Li, kick her butt.

  3. _Damien Ryan11:09am Saturday 26th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Cheats dont prosper.....C'mon Li Na....!!

  4. Bryan11:44pm Friday 25th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    If Vika was injured-why did her opponent have to sit out on courtside and wait for her to return-surely it would be much fairer if both players in these situations were able to leave courtside. Shame bad sportship if that bad shudda retired-world no 1 not in my eyes!!!

  5. santosh arora10:19pm Friday 25th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Stephens's coach accuses azarenka of 'cheating within the rules' i agree with the comments. The match should go in favour of 19 years stephens. i under stands rules can be broken by as done very cleverly in front of the world & decision should be reverted . We can have vote of all the spectators in the court, on tv before final of woman takes place. Azarenka is adviced in the name of good tannis should withdraw from the finals & set an good example of sportsmanship in the eyes of the world of humans.

  6. gloria s10:01pm Friday 25th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Yes I agree with comments re.Azarenka,extremely bad sportmanship.Play the game fair,or get out,No excuse for such disgusting behaviour,As for the grunts with several players,they should be stopped.Personally, I put it on mute when they are playing,works every time

  7. LULU09:16pm Friday 25th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I think sloan has proved her sportsmanship with high class not to comment.But I will comment for her as I think that is one of the worst cases of bad sportsmanship I have ever seen in tennis even sport in general.If she should have gone off earlier why did she not pick when she was about to serve.Sorry I will not be watching the final as I can't stand the screaming And I hope she gets hammered in the final.

  8. May08:07pm Friday 25th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    What a show of bad sportsmanship - if you can't take the heat .. get out. I hope she looses big time. Victoria doesn't deserve to win .. ship her out. She's bad for tennis .. go grunt somewhere else. We don;t want her as a role model for our kids

  9. Narayanswamy06:07pm Friday 25th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    What the hell the bloke (stephen's coach) is screaming like it was a "neck to neck" match perhaps poised , on the 3rd set and his trainee was on 'match point' touch and lost it. Come on wake up charlie, stephen was in 'no way' of winning anything (except maybe one more game). So take it with a pinch of salt, as it happens.

  10. Rio05:57pm Friday 25th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    So what is everybody suggesting? That Stephens would have won this match?! No way! She got lucky last time but she still has to improve heaps to beat Azarenka. Even is she won the second set she would have still lost the third. For Azarenka she is no match! Those who are loosing have right to complain... but MTOs are normal and everybody uses them.