NEW YORK (AP):Normally so good, so gritty, in the crucible of the third set, Maria Sharapova finally met her match against Victoria Azarenka in their US Open semi-final yesterday.
Coming all the way back from a set and a break down, the top-seeded Azarenka prevailed in a stirring third, beating four-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach her first US Open final.
"This one didn't go my way," Sharapova said. "Frustrating, but it's the game of tennis. A lot of swings in the match today. Certainly had the lead and the advantage."
Sharapova had been 12-0 in three-setters this year, and had won 78 consecutive matches in which she took the opening set, dating back to 2010. But Azarenka broke in the last game to push her own 2012 record to 12-0 in matches that went to three.
"I didn't know that statistic," Azarenka said during an on-court interview. "It's pretty good."
Today, Australian Open champion Azarenka will play in her second major final of the season - and career - against 14-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. Seeking a fourth title at Flushing Meadows, the fourth-seeded Williams wasted little time or energy while overwhelming 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy 6-1, 6-2.
Williams, trying to become the first 30-year-old woman to win the US Open since Martina Navratilova in 1987, compiled a 38-6 edge in winners in her 64-minute semi-final against Errani.
Since a surprising exit at the French Open in late May, her only first-round loss in 49 appearances at major tournaments, Williams is 25-1, including a title at Wimbledon and gold medal at the London Olympics.
Williams has a 9-1 career record against Azarenka.
"I've got to do something different, to be honest," Azarenka said.
Asked whether she would watch video of their past matches, Azarenka joked: "Well, I don't want to be depressed."
Then again, the way Azarenka dealt with Sharapova, she's probably feeling pretty good about herself. She certainly looked pleased while doing a little jig after Sharapova's forehand sailed long on the final point of their 2-hour, 42-minute quarter-final.