Competing in her 14th US Open semi-final, Serena Williams suffered a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to Victoria Azarenka, staying empty-handed in the 24th Major crown's quest. It was only the sixth loss in 39 Major semi-finals for Serena, making a great start but losing ground after that to propel Victoria into her third US Open final, the first in seven years!
Two great friends have shared the court on the most notable tennis scene for the 11th time, with Serena winning the previous ten encounters, dominating the overall head-to-head record 18-4. Still, she will have to wait for the 19th triumph over the Belarus player who has been on fire in the last three weeks, winning the title in Cincinnati and advancing into the fifth Major final on the same courts at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The runner-up in New York in 2012 and 2013, Azarenka will seek the first New York title against Naomi Osaka on Saturday, heading for Cincinnati-US Open double and the place just outside the top-10. Serena made the best start, securing three breaks in the opener for a 6-1 and a massive boost ahead of set number two.
Eager to show his best tennis and challenge a great rival, Victoria started to play much better from set number two, reducing the errors and earning chances on the return. She broke Serena twice for a 6-3, shifting momentum to her side of the court ahead of the decider.
The third set was a high-quality contest and it brought an early break for Azarenka who served well in the remaining games to cross the finish line and set the clash against Naomi Osaka. Williams praised Azarenka after the match, saying she roots for her and hoping she can continue playing at this level.
Victoria Azarenka defeated Serena Williams in three sets in the US Open semi-final.
"I started to spray a lot of errors after the opener, struggling on the second serve. The first serve wasn't bad but I didn't dominate the way I needed to.
In set number two, I made some costly return mistakes; I should have done some rallies better. Vika started playing on a high level, getting back the balls she usually can't and stepping her level up. My ankle injury wasn't that bad; t was my Achilles that got intense.
It feels fine now and I don't want to take anything from Victoria's victory. It bothered me for only one point. Vika has experienced a lot of ups and downs and I don't know how she stayed positive. That's a good lesson for all of us, never to give up, and I hope she keeps living her dream.
She knows my game well, and we always have good battles. When she plays against me, she lifts her level by a mile. She is the kind of person you always root for, unless you are playing against her," Serena Williams said.