In 2013, they met in the semi-finals. In 2014, they met in the round of 16.

Any fan would think Victoria Azarenka's first-round clash with Sloane Stephens on Tuesday, then, would be an infinitely inferior one to the previous instalments.

And they would be right.

Their first clash was marred by an untimely injury time-out taken by Azarenka, who had blown match points in the previous game.

The 11-minute break saw her steady herself in stifling conditions to reach the final, and eventually secure the title - an unpopular champion, however, due to her unsporting conduct.

In 2014, their fourth-round match was highlighted by some pot shots taken by both players - heads were aimed at, but ultimately the scoreboard was once again heavily in Azarenka's favour.

And the rivalry - if it can still be called that - petered out further, as the two-time champion was a convincing victor over Stephens, despite the former world number one coming in off a limited preparation and an injury-plagued '14 season.

Save for some grit shown to defy five break points in the second game of the second set, Stephens seemed accepting of her fate - and her inferiority when it comes to playing Azarenka.

However, Stephens' early exit further mars what was a promising grand slam record - in that she has only lost thrice in the first round of a major in 15 main-draw appearances.

The fire of two years ago has been so much extinguished the question put to Azarenka in the presser was about Stephens' on-court potential.

And the Belarusian was complimentary. Fancy that.

"Sloane is a player that she has really big weapons ... when she uses them she's a very, very dangerous player," Azarenka said.

"When you play against her, you want to try not give her opportunity to use those weapons. She has a really big serve and really heavy forehand.

"The important is just to try to control the game as much as you can. But I think she has a great potential. She's always been a dangerous player. She just needs to work hard."

Like any rivalry, a little competition must be present to give it oxygen.

Unless Stephens upends Azarenka on the big stage, this one might have already seen its best foot forward.