New York, NY
Top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus struggled in the first set but regained her form in time to beat third seed Maria Sharapova of Russia, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, to make it to U.S. Open final for the first time.
Azarenka will face American Serena Williams, who had an easier time in her semifinal match, needing just 64 minutes to dispose of 10th seed Sara Errani of Italy, 6-1, 6-2 for her sixth final appearance at Flushing Meadows.
Williams, who is eyeing her 15th Grand Slam title and her fourth at Flushing Meadows, owns a 9-1 head-to-head advantage against Azarenka in career meetings, including wins in the 2012 Wimbledon and Olympic semifinals.
Sharapova raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set but committed several double faults to allow Azarenka to trim the lead to just two before the Russian closed out the set.
Azarenka dropped serve in the first game of the second set but quickly regained the momentum she crafted at the end of the first set, winning six of the next seven games to run away with the second set, 6-2, and send it to a third.
In the third set, Azarenka used her well-placed return to fight off Sharapova serves, eventually breaking the Russia in the 10th game to finish the match in two hours and 42 minutes.
"Maria is such a great player - I knew she'd come out firing, and she did, placing the ball very well and not giving me an opportunity to get into the match," Azarenka said. "I just tried to find my rhythm and grab my first opportunity.
"It was just fight, just heart," added Azarenka, who remained spotless in 12 three-setters this year.
Meanwhile, No. 2 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan of the US defeated No. 5 seeds Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4, to capture their 12th Grand Slam doubles' title as a team.
The Bryan brothers have surpassed the record for most Grand Slam doubles titles as a team in the Open era they previously shared with Aussies Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.
They are now tied with Aussies John Newcombe and Tony Roche for the record for most Grand Slam doubles titles of all time as a team.
"It's not going to sink in for a long time," said Mike. "We idolized the Woodies growing up and they were an inspiration to us. But we're just having fun out there and it's been showing in our results."
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