NEW YORK – Serena Williams was already struggling to stay in a fast-paced US Open semi-final when she stopped and leaned behind the baseline after the third set. He held that pose slightly, then fastened it to his left ankle and asked for a trainer.
While Williams took a medical timeout for a tape job, her latest bid for the 24th Grand Slam singles title appears to be her rival Victoria Azarenka sitting on a sideline seat, eyes closed, calm and as can be.
After a delay of about five minutes at Arthur Ash Stadium, the action resumed, and when Williams increased the force of his shots and the amount of his outcry, it was Azarenka who took 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. Won from Return to a major championship final for the first time since 2013.
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“It’s been seven years? That is my favorite number. I think that means it. I am very grateful for this opportunity, ”said Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013 and lost to Williams in the final of the US Open in those two years. “On the way to the finals, you have to beat the best players and today was the day.”
The loss left Williams again just behind number 24. He was defeated in four of the preceding seven slams at Flushing Meadows in 2018 and 2019.
With his 39th birthday a little over two weeks away, the question will become: how many more chances will Williams get?
It was Williams’ fourth consecutive three-setter in New York and although she was far better early Thursday, racing to a 4–0 lead within 15 minutes, Azarenka was finally leaving.
“I dug myself in a big hole. I mean, he dug me in a big hole in the first set and I had to climb my way one by one from there, “said Azarenka, a 31-year-old woman from Belarus who is 27th,” and I’m So glad I was able to rotate it, because it sure wasn’t easy. ”
Evidence of Azarenka’s talent: He compiled 12 winners and made just one unexpected error in the second set, then continued his grounded mastery in the third, especially with his backhand.
This earned him his first win against Williams in 11 career Grand Slam matchups between the pair.
Azarenka, Osaka to meet on Saturday
On Saturday, Azarenka will face Naomi Osaka for the championship in a meeting between two-time major champions, who have both been ranked No. 1 in the past and the two best players to date, following an epidemic in tennis last month. Were resumed. Vacancy
Azarenka has won 11 matches in a row; Osaka’s streak is 10th after 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-3, leading Jennifer Brady to a hard-fought and strong forehand-filled semi-final win.
Azarenka and Osaka were scheduled to play in the finals of the Western and Southern Open – a hard-court event from Ohio to New York as part of a two-tournament “controlled environment” with the US Open this year being epidemic. – But Osaka bounced back due to an injured hamstring.
Azarenka, who was sitting in her assigned suit to watch some of Osaka vs. Brady, said, “So excited to play against him, because we didn’t play last week, so it’s going to be super fun.” is.” Plays incredible. ”
Osaka wrapped up a left tackle for his high-quality semi-final on the court on Thursday where he defeated Williams for the 2018 title.
“It means a lot to me. I consider New York my second home,” said Osaka, who was born in Japan and moved to the United States as a child. “I like a kind of environment , Although there is no person here. I feel that this court suits me well. ”
Corrected both players just fine.
Osaka served up to 120 mph; Brady reached 117 mph. And he played the ball once when he was in the game, especially from the forehand side.
“I felt like I’m throwing it out. It felt like we are doing business, ”Osaka said. “I tried to adjust a bit on her serve in the third set so that might help.”
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He added 70 winners – 35 appeals – to just 42 unforced errors, each as good as the other, and resorted to little luck to swing things after 1 hour, 45 minutes.
This is when, 2–1 in the third set, Osaka earned his first break point with a backhand, hitting a net tape and being over tricked. She was able to convert the chance when she made a deep return to 110 mph serve, and in response Brady’s backhand was called long – though a television replay showed that it had indeed caught a slice behind the baseline.
Brady did not challenge the ruling.
This year the line is one of only two courts at the US Open using judges; To reduce the number of people on the site, the tournament used electronic line-calling in other arenas.