Vika relationship 'non-existent', says Stephens
Sloane Stephens of the US signs an autograph following her win over Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in their women's singles match on day six of the 2014 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2014 - by Mal Fairclough
Stephens said she had forgotten most of the events surrounding the 2013 semi-final, when Azarenka went for a medical timeout at a crucial moment, and then suggested she had called it to calm down.
The Belarusian was slow-handclapped as she returned to the court, but she defiantly ignored the hostile crowd to win the match and eventually the tournament.
Stephens and Azarenka both live in Los Angeles and they share an agent. But when asked if they ever socialised, the American was blunt.
"I have literally never seen her in LA. So, no," said the 20-year-old, who then gave a one-word answer to a question about their off-court relationship. "Non-existent," she said.
The replies suggest an undercurrent of ill-feeling between the two, despite their insistence that the events of last year are forgotten.
Azarenka went off for the timeout after Stephens had saved five match points and broken the Belarusian. On her return Stephens, playing her first Grand Slam semi-final, won only three more points.
"That has nothing to do with this year. I don't even remember half the stuff that happened. It's okay," Stephens said.
"Like I said, it's a new match. I mean, it will be Monday hopefully on the big court. It will be exciting."
Azarenka, nicknamed "Vika", also stonewalled when questioned about last year, answering "nothing" when asked what she had learned from the incident.
"What is there to learn? I mean, it was just a great experience for me to be playing in the final and winning the title," she said.
"That's what I learned, I guess. I just learned how to win my second Grand Slam."
Stephens has a consistent Grand Slam record over the past year, reaching at least the fourth round on each occasion, but is yet to win her first career title.
Azarenka has won the last two editions of the Australian Open, and her chances of adding a third rose when top seed Serena Williams went out on Sunday.
However, Stephens warned that she would not be easily distracted this time around.
"I don't get flustered as easily, it's something I have worked on," she said.
"I don't get overwhelmed and I'm kind of just learning to focus on myself, because that's the only thing I can control, the things that I do."