Serena Williams’ US Open hopes end as Victoria Azarenka fights back to set up Osaka final

Victoria Azarenka fought back from a set down to beat Serena Williams for just the fifth time in her career and reach the US Open final.

In a mouthwatering showdown between two Grand Slam champions, Williams made a fast start as she raced through the set in 35 minutes, winning it 6-1.

The 38-year-old had a golden opportunity to take commanding control of the match when she had a break point to go 2-0 ahead in the second set.

But she missed a backhand and it proved to the turning point as Azarenka launched her comeback, breaking Williams to lead 3-2 and again to win the set 6-3.

In the final set, serving at 0-1, Williams fell awkwardly and received treatment on her ankle which delayed play.

When it resumed Azarenka went on the attack and broke to lead 0-2 and from then on she was untroubled on her serve and claimed victory on the first match point with an ace.

For Azarenka, it will be her first Grand Slam final since the 2013 US Open when she was beaten by Williams.

And she will face 2018 champion Naomi Osaka, who beat American Jennifer Brady 7-6 3-6 6-3.

Speaking after the match, Azarenka opened up about how she was able to turn the match around after losing the first set.

She said: “Well, I knew I had to step up with my game. It was very quick. In the beginning, it was a lot of very short rallies.

“She served really, really well. I felt like I was kind of out of range. I wasn’t finding my serve. Second serve was getting killed.

“I knew I had to get into the rallies, I needed to step up with my aggressivity, play a little smarter, play with a little bit more width of the court and bring the intensity up. I felt that intensity was important today, to bring it up. I’m glad that that worked out for me.”

With her exit, the wait goes on for Williams as she attempts to win a 24th Grand Slam title and she felt too many errors cost her dearly.

She said: “I just think I made more errors. I made a lot more errors. I didn’t win a lot on my second serves, apparently. I wasn’t serving. I mean, I served well, but I didn’t dominate the way I needed to in that.

“I made some really key mistakes on some returns in the second set that I probably should have done better. I mean, you know, I don’t know. That’s what I would say what happened.

“I think she started playing really, really well. Like, she just started getting balls that she normally doesn’t get back, she got those back. She started hitting shots that she normally doesn’t make, she made those. She just really stepped her level up.”

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