After surviving three consecutive three setters, six time champion Serena Williams finally conceded defeat in the semifinals of the US Open Thursday night.
Her longtime rival Victoria Azarenka halted the American’s quest for a record 24th Grand Slam singles title with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
Unlike in the previous rounds, Serena raced away with the first set without much resistance, but the resurgent Belarusian regained her fantastic form in recent weeks in the next two sets.
38-year-old Serena had to seek assistance for an Achilles problem early in the third set and struggled to recover in the rest of the match.
It was only Azarenka’s fifth win against Serena in their 23 career head-to-head encounters.
It was also a sweet revenge for the 31-year-old player, who lost to Williams in both the 2012 and 2013 US Open finals.
“On the road to the final, you have to beat the best players, and definitely today was that day,” Azarenka said after the match.
Williams has not won a major tournament since returning to the tour after giving birth to her daughter in 2017.
Azarenka will face Japan’s 2018 US Open champion Naomi Osaka in the title match on Saturday in Flushing Meadows.
Osaka advanced to the New York final for the second time in three attempts by beating first-time Grand Slam quarter finalist Jennifer Brady 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.
In men’s semifinals Friday, No. 5 Alexander Zverev (Germany) will meet No. 20 Pablo Carreno Busta (Spain) and No. 3 Daniil Medvedev (Russia) will take on No. 2 Dominic Thiem (Austria).
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