World number one Victoria Azarenka has denied claims that she deliberately manipulated the rules book when she took a medical time out with the score at 5-4 in the second set of her Australian Open semi-final win over teenager Sloane Stephens.
Azarenka's win over the 29th seed was marred by the medical timeout controversy as various pundits slammed the Belarusian of not complying with the sportsmanship, News.com.au reports.
Stephens' coach David Nainkin claimed it was unfair and accused Azarenka of cheating within the rules.
In post-match interviews on Thursday, Azarenka had blamed breathing difficulties that felt like a heart attack for leaving the court during her win over Stephens, but by the time she faced the media over an hour later a mysterious back and rib issue were the source of her pain, the paper reported.
Azarenka said the issue flared two days ago and had returned a few games before she called for the doctor after failing to serve out the match at 5-3.
Azarenka claimed she couldn't control how long it takes to fix her injury, adding she just regret that she didn't take it earlier.
The Belarusian said there was a little bit of my bad, but just a rib got locked and kept getting worse, and added she had to have it adjusted.
Azarenka said she was telling what happened honestly that her back was bothering her, adding it took her too long to call the trainer, which was her mistake.
She added that she took it to the point where she couldn't breathe and she added that when she plays and somebody takes a medical timeout, she doesn't doubt him or her.
It was the decision of the tournament doctor to take Azarenka off court, but the 10-minute treatment equated to two medical timeouts as her knee was also assessed from a fall in the third game of the second set.
Azarenka did not deny her initial claims of choking and the onset of panic, but insisted there was a genuine physical ailment behind her obvious psychological failure, the paper concluded. (ANI)