US Open: Victoria Azarenka sneaks semi-final win over Maria Sharapova
World No 1 Victoria Azarenka repeated her Australian Open triumph over Maria Sharapova to reach her first US Open final last night.
The Melbourne victory, which gave Azarenka her first grand slam title, had been one-sided as the Belarusian lost only three games but this was a titanic struggle between two of the women’s game’s biggest fighters.
Azarenka finally came out on top 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 after two hours and 42 minutes and will tonight meet either Serena Williams or French Open finalist Sara Errani, who played in last night’s late match. The 23-year-old said: “I was just trying to grab the first opportunity that I had. Maria is such a great player.
“I knew she would come out firing and she did. I tried to find my rhythm and just fight.
“I tried to give whatever it takes. I knew my opponent was going to play hard so I had to play harder.
“I gave it my all. I guess it worked. It’s my first final and I’m so excited.”
In the Australian Open final, it had been Sharapova who had made the better start before Azarenka took control and won 12 of the last 13 games.
The Russian again was the more solid in the early stages here, and this time she kept it going, turning a 3-0 lead into 5-1 and the opportunity to serve for the set.
However, Sharapova wobbled and looked like she would lose her advantage completely when Azarenka had two chances to reduce the deficit to 5-4, her opponent throwing in two double faults in the windy conditions.
But the world No 1, who hit only one winner in the opening set, could not take her opportunity and Sharapova clinched it with her first ace of the match.
Azarenka’s superior movement had taken her opponent out of the game in Melbourne but here Sharapova was powering away winners and winning plenty of points with her serve.
The third seed had survived real battles against another Russian, Nadia Petrova and Marion Bartoli of France to make it through to the last four, while Azarenka prevailed in a third set tie-break against defending champion Sam Stosur in the quarter-finals.
This match did not look like it would be close when the Belarusian hooked a forehand well wide to be broken again at the start of the second set but from there things turned around.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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