Stephens made a second-set comeback but failed to pull off a second straight major upset.
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Sharapova heads into the next major, May's French Open, as the defending champion.
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No. 6 Li Na beat No. 2 Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2 to make Saturday's final.
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Sharapova had lost nine games over five matches coming into the semifinal.
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No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 4 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 to reach his third straight Australian Open final.
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The Bryan brothers beat Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the doubles final.
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Li advanced to the Australian Open final for the second time in three years.
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Redfoo of LMFAO, Azarenka's biggest fan (and perhaps much more than that), watches at Rod Laver Arena.
No. 1 Victoria Azarenka beat No. 29 Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4, but only after a controversial medical timeout that appeared very much to be gamesmanship.
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Ferrer has yet to break through and reach a Grand Slam final.
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